When the temperature soared and the power went out, Lowell resident Shirley Thomas knew it wasn't only herself and her human family she had to keep safe and cool.
Thomas, 65, is the owner of two dogs, a 7-year-old shih tzu and a 16-week-old chihuahua mix.
"I gave them baths. That's how I kept them cool," said Thomas, who was without electricity for two days earlier this week following the June 29 storms that downed trees and power lines around the region.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Lowell resident Shirley Thomas, left, purchases an item for her 16-week-old chihuahua mix Miss T at We Lov Pets in Marietta. Thomas, pictured with her grandson Dillon Allyson and the store’s animal and reptile manager Kayla Fought, said she never leaves Miss T in her car during the summer.
Pet owners are reminded to protect their four-legged friends during periods of extreme heat, making sure they have plenty of water and ways to keep cool. Having the power off, of course, adds a degree of difficulty with a lack of air conditioning and fans and, in some cases, limited water supplies.
"It's been rough on my dogs, and they're inside dogs," said Butch Morris, Washington County humane officer.
During the recent heat wave, Morris said, he's gotten a few calls about dogs outside with no water, but it's turned out the animal just spilled the container holding it. While Morris has gone to provide the dogs water, he said it would be simpler if the person who called simply took the animal some water and set it somewhere they couldn't tip it over.
Keeping pets cool
- We Lov Pets, 450 Pike St., Marietta, is inviting people without power to bring their pets to the store to cool down and get fresh water. The store is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Protecting pets during extreme heat
- Never leave your pets in a parked car - not even for a minute, not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact the nearest animal shelter or police.
- Watch the humidity - High humidity prevents animals from cooling themselves and their temperatures can rise to dangerous levels quickly. A dog's temperature should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees.
- Don't rely on a fan - Fans don't cool off pets as effectively as they do people.
- Provide ample shade and water - Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don't obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat - in fact, it makes it worse.
- Limit exercise on hot days - Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.
- Recognize the signs of heatstroke - These include heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness. Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise or have heart or respiratory disease.
- If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke - Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.
Source: Humane Society of the United States.
Morris said he's seen some instances where dogs don't have enough shade, but "nothing I've found that was blatant neglect."
"Until (the heat) breaks, water and shade is the main thing," he said.
To provide that shade, Morris said people can do something as simple as leaning a board against a doghouse.
"Just something where the dog can get in and break that heat," he said.
Dalzell resident Stacy Orr, 41, said she has a tarp to provide shade for her family's two hunting dogs. They primarily stay outside, getting their dishes refilled with cool water at least twice a day. When it's really hot, as it's been this week, they take them inside for a while to help beat the heat.
"We've been bringing them in in the afternoon just for a break," Orr said. "We keep an eye on them. If they looked distressed, then we would do something more."
Thomas had her youngest dog, the chihuahua mix Miss T, in her arms Thursday at We Lov Pets in Marietta. She said she never leaves the dog in the car on a hot day, which can be fatal.
In addition, Thomas' family makes sure the dogs get their exercise even in the heat, but they adjust their routines accordingly.
"We always (go) around 6 o'clock in the morning," she said.
We Lov Pets manager Adam Johnson said the store is inviting people without power to bring their pets to the store to cool down.
"We've got air conditioning on and a tile floor, and we've got plenty of fresh water," he said.
A couple of popular items pet owners have purchased during the recent heat wave have been cooling beds that don't require a refrigerator or electricity to keep the animal cool and battery powered aerators for fish tanks. The store sold out of the latter item as people looked for ways to keep aquariums clean with no electricity.