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Summer heat can be deadly for your pets, SPCA warns

Animal watchdog the SPCA is to launch a campaign to give pets greater protection from summer's stifling heat.

Chairman Dr. Andrew Madeiros said already this summer one dog that he knew about had died from heat exhaustion and, if previous years were anything to go by, others would follow suit.

Dr. Madeiros, who is also a vet, said contrary to belief, dogs that succumbed to the rising temperatures and uncomfortable humidity were not necessarily neglected or from unloving homes. But he said often their deaths were due to ignorance.

"Normally, I see two or three deaths of dogs due to heat exhaustion every summer, and they are usually from very loving homes," said Dr. Madeiros.

"One of the most common cases is where dogs are left tied up in the yard all day, and they get tangled up on the leash or trees and they can't get out of the sun into shade or to their water.

"The poor dog ends up sitting in the sun for four hours and simply can't cool down. But even when there is no sun in Bermuda, the humidity is a big factor.

"We want to urge people to ensure that their animals can get out of the sun and heat and can drink plenty of water throughout the day. Owners should also look for signs that their dog is in trouble. If they are, they need to hose them down immediately with cold water and give them plenty to drink."

Dr. Madeiros said dog owners in summer should not:

Leave their dogs in cars for any length of time, even if a window is open

Tie their dog up during the day without anywhere to cool down, particularly where it can get tangled on trees or bikes and be unable to reach water or shade

Exercise their pets during the hottest parts of the day, even if the sun is not shining

Put muzzles and harnesses on their pets that may hamper their breathing or ability to drink

Take them out on boats in the sunshine for long periods

Dr. Madeiros advised that people do not walk or exercise their dogs between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the summer months.

But he said particular care should be taken with large breeds or dogs that were overweight.

Dr. Madeiros said if people did walk their dogs during the day, it should be for short periods and never while they were muzzled or pulling on a choker chain or harness. And water should always be taken along for the animal.

And he said signs that the dog was in trouble included difficulty breathing, very red tongue and gums, signs of stress, lying down and refusing to walk further, glassy eyes, and looking dehydrated.

He added: "Heavy panting dogs and animals that pull on the leash are real candidates for getting into trouble. Size of the dog makes a difference, too. Overweight dogs are much more prone to having difficulty cooling down, and they hold the heat much more. If you do exercise your dog during the day, you should take water along for it, but I would say avoid taking them during the hottest times.

"Dogs that get hyped up a lot and run about are at particular risk. Dogs can get to a point where their cooling down system is no longer efficient and then it's too late if you don't realise quickly. They need water and they need to be hosed down.

"We ask people to look for the warning signs and to act quickly."

For more advice on looking after dogs in the heat of the summer, people should contact any vet or the SPCA on 236-7333.