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The dog days of Calgary summer weren’t intended for your pets

Calgary has had some intense heat this summer, and it doesn’t look like we’re out of the woods quite yet.

Officials warned Calgarians to take precautions when exposing themselves to heat which hit highs above 30 Celsius in late July. More hot weather is predicted for late August.

It’s a good time to remind Calgarians to take extra precautions when exposing their furry friends to the heat.

This summer alone, the Calgary Humane Society (CHS) has investigated 112 heat-related animal welfare concerns. Brad Nichols, Director of Operations and Enforcement, said that these types of calls are an annual problem.

The CHS works collaboratively with the Calgary Police Service (CPS) to assist with heat-related animal welfare concerns, most specifically, dogs left in vehicles.  

“It’s just incredibly dangerous. Dogs don’t sweat like we do, they don’t have thumbs, they can’t get out of vehicles and it’s truly an emergency call,” said Nichols. 

Nichols said that there is no exception for leaving animals in vehicles during hot days, even if the windows are down or the air conditioning is on because air conditioning has been known to fail and dogs have perished because of it.  

The CHS takes these incidents very seriously and can lead to potential charges being laid which may include being banned from owning animals.  

“When an animal is suffering in a hot car, they’re cooking from the inside out, and so within 10 minutes, you’re probably at 50 degrees in that vehicle, and you can imagine what 50 degrees feels like when you have a bunch of hair and don’t have the ability to sweat. Animals do perish in hot vehicles and certainly, they suffer,” said Nichols. 

Short stints outdoors

Leaving animals in vehicles is not the only way pets can be exposed to dangerous health conditions during the heat of summer.

The CHS recommends keeping pets inside and only taking them out for very short bathroom breaks. If walks are absolutely necessary, CHS said to consider putting dog boots on your pet because if it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for their paw pads. Nichols said that if you are taking your pet for a walk in the heat, then be prepared to carry your pet home in case of heatstroke. 

If individuals are concerned that their pet might be experiencing heat stroke, signs to look out for would be a sudden change in behaviour, slow movement, lethargy, excessive panting, purple tongue, excessive thirst and other symptoms. To check if your dog is dehydrated, pet owners can pinch the scruff of their dog’s neck and if it doesn’t go back down quickly, then Nichols warns that they may be experiencing dehydration. 

“The irony is that they think they’re enriching their animals with this [outdoor activity] and really they’re causing their animals to be in distress,” said Nichols. 

Nichols said that there are many ways to enrich your dog at home without putting them at risk of heatstroke. 

“Keep those animals inside, enrich them in other ways. Freeze something with treats in it, run them around the house, and if you’ve got the opportunity maybe take them to doggy daycare where there’s an indoor outlet for their energy. Those are all options,” said Nichols. 

“This heat really affects all of us so let’s not forget about the animals.”