After six people arrived at the Front Street Animal Shelter this week bringing in dogs that died of heat-related causes, city animal welfare officials are urging people to remember that dogs are not impervious to heat.
Because dogs don't have sweat glands, they cool off by panting, said Bobby Mann, a shelter spokesman. When the temperature hits triple digits, a dog out in the sun with insufficient water might not be able to keep up, and can quickly succumb to heat stroke and die.
“We understand at the front street shelter that not everybody has indoor pets," said Mann. "Obviously we encourage pets to be part of the family and keep them indoors in the air conditioning, because just like us our pets love to be nice and cool and comfortable -- but if you do have your pets outdoors we do absolutely expect you to provide the essentials of care."
In the summer, a shady place to retreat to is added to the usual essentials of food, water and shelter, with a greater emphasis placed on an abundant supply of cool, clean water for your dog. But even if you think you have provided the necessities, there’s no substitute for paying attention to your pooch.
A dog that is lethargic, panting excessively or exhibiting other uncharacteristic behavior should be rushed to a veterinarian, said Mann.
All the dogs brought to the shelter for ‘disposal’ were larger breeds, Mann said, adding it is more common for larger dogs to be kept outdoors, and they might be perceived as being hardier than smaller breeds.
“The staff at Front Street work very hard to provide a safe place for the animals in our shelter, but our hearts ache when things like this happen,” said a post on the shelter’s Facebook page.