Watching out for your pet during the dog days of summer

By Staff Sgt. Julie Morris
JBM-HH Veterinary Treatment Center NCOIC
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – It’s time to get out with the family and the family dog to enjoy some recreational activities and some beautiful summer weather. Hot weather can make us all uncomfortable, and it poses special risks for man’s best friend. People need to be reminded of the seasonal dangers so summer fun isn’t spoiled by a preventable emergency or illness.

On what may seem like a mild summer day, pet owners may think leaving their dog in a locked car for a relatively short period of time isn’t dangerous. However, this puts your dog in great jeopardy by exposing it to heat-related injuries, such as heat stroke. Even with the windows cracked, the temperature in cars can rise to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes; even on seemingly mild summer days.
There are heat stroke symptoms you should watch out for in your pet because heat stroke can be fatal.
Normal body temperatures for canines range from 100-102.5 F. If your dog has a temperature that is greater than 104 F and it exhibits heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive drooling or bright red gums and tongue, immediately take it to the nearest emergency animal hospital. While en route, try cooling the dog down by rubbing alcohol on its paw pads, applying ice packs to the groin area or feeding the dog ice chips and small amounts of cool water. It is important to keep your local veterinarian’s contact information and the address of an emergency animal hospital easily available, such as in the glove box of your car or on your refrigerator door.

Dog houses provide great shelter for dogs staying outdoors. However, on hot and sunny days these structures can be death traps. Always remember to make sure there is adequate ventilation inside the dog house. You should also provide your pet with other shady areas to rest in and ensure that plenty of cool, clean drinking water is available. Try avoiding strenuous activities, such as long runs or walks, during the hottest portions of the day. If you have plans to take your canine companion to the beach or local swimming pool, avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which may burn your pet’s paws. Your dog may be tempted to drink sea or pool water, but do not let your pet drink this because it may cause sickness. Never leave a dog unattended in the water.
Thinking of traveling with your pet by air? Check with your airline first for specific rules when traveling with a dog. Some airlines do not allow pets to travel because of the dangers caused by heat. If you are able to fly with your dog, it’s never a bad idea to put ice packs in your dog’s crate (try frozen water bottles) and provide plenty of water in a bowl and frozen drinking water (as backup) so that it can thaw during the flight.
For the general health of your furry companion, make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, especially since the creatures are outdoors more frequently this time of year and will come into contact with other dogs and people. You should also make sure your pet stays off lawns that have been chemically-treated or fertilized for at least 24 hours. This avoids exposing your dog to toxins that could harm it.
Did you know that fleas, parasites, ticks and mosquitoes carry various diseases such as heartworm and parvo? Dogs are more susceptible to these diseases in the summer than winter months.
Please protect the health of your pet and give your dog the right preventive medicine and needed care. For more information concerning dog-related health matters such as vaccinations, diseases and/or prevention tips, contact the Joint-Base Myer Henderson-Hall Veterinary Treatment Facility at 703-696-3604 and speak to one of the highly-trained animal care specialists or veterinarians on staff.

To learn more about the services the veterinary treatment center provides, visit the website at
The veterinary clinic does not provide emergency animal care for privately-owned animals, however, there are a number of emergency animal hospitals off base that can assist pet owners with their dog’s medical needs. Contact the veterinary treatment center for a list of 24-hour emergency care providers in the Arlington area.