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Dog days of summer

Remember to keep pets cool during hot weather

July 17, 2012
By KYLE WHITNEY - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - With daily highs routinely hovering around 90 degrees in recent weeks, people know very well how to stay cool.

Those who don't have air-conditioning can often be found near pools or sprinklers or huddled in the shade or along the Marquette area's numerous Lake Superior beaches.

Occasionally, though, in all the talk of heat and humidity, people forget about the comfort of one group: Pets.

Article Photos

With temperatures baking the Marquette area, this summer has been particularly dangerous for pets, which can become dangerously hot when overworked or left in a sun-soaked car. Above, a dog sits in a vehicle Monday, when temperatures were expected to exceed 90 degrees. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)

Tracy Nyberg, an associate veterinarian at Chocolay Township's Bayshore Veterinary Hospital, said it isn't unusual to see an animal come through the doors dealing with heat-related medical issues.

Dogs, which are lower to the ground and have higher metabolisms and natural fur coats, are in serious danger of overheating if they exert themselves in the heat or if they are forced to sit in the sun or a hot vehicle.

Dogs can face trouble, she said, "even if it's in the 70s or something you wouldn't think would be dangerous."

"(People) think, 'Oh, our dog wants to go outside.' And they do. They like to go outside," Nyberg said. "They don't realize that being lower to the ground ... they get hotter than we do faster, and they can't tell us. They want to keep going a lot of times, just because we are."

If you want to exercise with your pet, it is always better to do it early in the morning or late in the evening, she said.

"Everybody likes to be outside in the summer and going for runs on hot pavement," Nyberg said. "But anything that we're getting hot doing, they're getting multiple times hot."

If outside, it's best to always provide your pet a shaded place to lie down. It's also best to avoid bringing your dog in the car with you whenever possible, according to Nyberg. Always provide ample water for your pet, as well.

Signs that a pet may be getting too hot include unusually heavy panting, drooling, visible distress or lethargic behavior.

Gwinn resident Anna Tomacari owns two dogs and three cats and said she is very concerned about the safety of animals in the heat.

"I think they aren't aware. I don't think they're doing it intentionally," she said of pet owners that put their four-legged friends in dangerous summer situations. "People have to remember these dogs have fur coats. They can't take them off to go to the beach."

According to the National Weather Service, the inside of a car left in the sun in 80 degree weather will reach 99 degrees in just 10 minutes. That same car will be 114 degrees after 30 minutes and 123 degrees after an hour.

Tomacari said she will often call the police if she sees a dog locked in a parked car.

"I see so many dogs in parked cars ... panting," she said. "That cracked window is not going to save the dog. And you see that all the time, everywhere."

Tomacari and Nyberg suggest calling the police if you see a distressed dog locked in a car. Nyberg said a call to one of the area's veterinary offices could also help you better identify the signs of overheating.

For pet owners concerned with the summer health and well-being of their furry friend, Nyberg said a trim is also a possibility.

"We see a lot of people that shave their dogs down for the summer," she said. "They say they do seem much cooler and much happier."

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is



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