Pets need special care in hot weather

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Houdini has only begun using his pool this year, according to Hillcrest Zoo Curator Mark Yanotti, who said the otter was afraid of the water before.

Sharna Johnson

With scorching heat predicted through the weekend, humans aren’t the only ones who need to take care.

Pets are highly susceptible to heat and should be given a lot of consideration as temperatures rise, according to Clovis veterinarian, Dr. Olin Dawkins.

Dawkins said it is common for him to treat animals suffering from heat exhaustion and exacerbated health conditions when it gets hot.

Through Sunday, temperatures are expected to rise above 100 degrees, with Saturday predicted to reach a high of 105, according to Accuweather.com.

Pet owners should watch their animals for signs of heat related issues and should take measures to help them stay cool, Dawkins said.

For dogs that are accustomed to being outdoors, the adjustment is a little easier. Dawkins said that doesn’t mean they don’t need extra help.

“Provide adequate shade and bring them in if possible,” he said.

Often, dogs will tip over their water. “They’ll drag it out and make a mud puddle and lay in it,” Dawkins said. “They’re trying to get cool.”

Water left sitting in the sun doesn’t do much good, he said, advising that owners should also place several, large sources of water in the shade so pets have ample, cool water to drink.

Summer months are also a good time to have a relationship with a groomer.

“Some of our breeds have got quite a coat on in the summer and need some help in that respect,” he said.

And pet owners should understand that eating generates heat. On hot days animals may have a reduced appetite and feeding time should take place in the cooler hours.

Clovis resident Dixie Evans said in the hot months, she freezes water in milk jugs that she then submerges in her dog’s dishes to help keep their water cool through the day.

Hillcrest Zoo Curator Mark Yanotti said the zoo has installed misting systems in several enclosures that are turned on when temperatures go above 95 degrees.

Several animals, such as the wolves, bears, and cats, also have swimming pools they can play in when temperatures rise.

Most of the animals are “from here or hotter places,” so they do well in the heat, he said.

The zoo has even installed a couple of misters for human visitors, he said.

Wednesday afternoon, Houdini the otter was alternating between swimming in his pool and lounging in the sun on a floating slide.

“This is the first year he has taken to the water,” Yanotti said.

Houdini, about 5 years old, wouldn’t go near the pool when he first arrived, with his natural habitat being more inclined to streams and creeks, Yanotti said.