Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you recently wrote about the “dog days” of summer.  Any advice on how to help our canine pals survive this hottest part of the year?

A:  Good question!  Fortunately, columnist Joan Morris recently offered some great advice in the East Bay Times, including the following:

  • NEVER leave your dog unattended in your car, not even if you park in the shade and leave the windows partly open. Cars heat up fast!  A dog can suffer from heatstroke – possibly fatally – within 15 minutes. “California law now permits people to rescue animals from cars – without legal risk – if they believe the animal is in distress.”
  • If your furry pet spends much time outdoors, “create spaces where they can escape the heat and sun.”
  • Always provide your pet with water when it is outdoors. “Fill a bowl and leave it under a slowly dripping faucet, invest in a water dispenser, or freeze bowls of water that will slowly melt in the heat.  Refill the bowl at least daily, and more often in hot weather.” [NOTE:  You may want to bring in food and water bowls at nighttime, to avoid attracting raccoons, coyotes, etc.]
  • Check your pet daily for fleas or ticks, which are more active in the summer.
  • Wildlife may be more attracted to irrigated landscapes in hot weather, so check before letting out your pet. “If you have small pets, don’t leave them in the yard alone.  Coyotes can scale or jump 6-foot fences, and hawks may view small pets as prey.”  [NOTE:  There have been several sightings of mountain lions within residential areas of Pleasanton lately, according to the police department.]
  • Avoid walking your dog in the heat of the day. “If you have no choice, avoid asphalt and dark pavement, which absorbs the heat and can burn your dog’s paws, and keep walks short. Test the heat by putting your hand down on the pavement.  If you can’t comfortably hold your hand on the surface for at least 5 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog.”
  • If you have indoor pets, “be sure they have access to cooler places in the house and plenty of water.
  • “West Nile virus has been confirmed in the Bay Area, so protect yourself and your pets by eliminating places for mosquitos to breed. Mosquitos usually feed at dusk and dawn, prime dog-walking times, so if you can’t adjust your schedule, be sure to use repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil.”

Thank you for reminding us that pets need special attention in order to stay healthy during the summer “dog days”!