Yes, the dog days of summer have finally arrived and everyone is in a great mood.  We’re all eager to fire up the grill, begin a rousing game of badminton, go for a swim or why not a hike?

My husband, Ken, and I were going out for lunch a few weeks ago.  We wanted to try a new market in town that we heard served a “mean” burger.
As we pulled into a parking space on that humid 88 degree day, we noticed a dog inside of the car next to us; and before I go any further, please know that the dog is fine.  The windows were all cracked, with the back one open about six inches…but still. 

All the joy of the day and my appetite were gone, and Ken knew that I would not walk away from that car for all the great burgers on the planet.  I stayed by the car for half an hour, going into the market once only to buy a bottle of water so the dog could drink from my cupped hand.  Several shoppers stayed close by as well, and one gentleman was ready to break the car windows if the dog looked distressed in any way.  Finally, the owner arrived and people who had gathered around and were concerned for the dog began telling her that she should never leave a dog in a car in the summer.  She proclaimed that she was in the market for only five minutes, but we all knew that we had been standing in the searing heat by her car for at least a half an hour.

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I had no doubt that the owner loved her pet; she just had very poor judgment on that day.  The dog was big, beautiful, tan-spotted and looked well cared-for, but it simply is not necessary to take an animal everywhere, especially on a hot, humid day.  A dog should be left home where it is comfortable, familiar with its surroundings and most of all, safe.

The following are a few basic facts, which, perhaps, deserve repeating:
• If an animal must be outdoors on a hot day, be sure there is adequate shade and provide plenty of water
• A dog’s normal body temperature is 100-102 degrees.  A temperature nearing 106 is deadly and calls for immediate veterinary assistance
• Dogs don’t have the ability to sweat, and panting can’t always cool them when overheated.
• Symptoms of overheating include extreme panting and elevated heart rate.  They may drool, become disoriented or seem lethargic.
• If symptoms occur, get the animal to a cool area or near a fan.  Provide cool water and dampen the skin with lukewarm water.
• Watch for hot surfaces like asphalt and cement, as they can burn sensitive paws.
• Restrict exercise on hot or humid days
• DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PET IN A PARKED CAR – not even in the shade.  In minutes the temperature in a car can reach 140 degrees
Do I love dogs?  You bet.
Let’s all enjoy the dog days of summer…even our pets.