The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 29, 2013

Ryan Richardson: Prepare your pets for heat of summer

By Ryan Richardson
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — Fellow Joplinites, I'm going to level with you: I'm dreading the summer weather here.

I dealt with the brutally hot summer last year in St. Joseph, which was one of the worst on record. But somehow or another, Joplin beat us in temperature and lack of rainfall.

It hasn't really sunk in that I'm further south now and that the weather will change accordingly.

During the height of last summer's hot weather, back home there was a huge outbreak of outdoor animals succumbing to the heat wave. I covered animal control, and they commented on the amount of pets that were brought in that had not survived the heat.

There were some that were just older and couldn't take the heat, but most of the deaths were preventable. I found that the local veterinarians were noticing a spike in heat-related injuries that was also avoidable. As a pet enthusiast, it made me evaluate how I cared for my pets and if I was doing everything I could.

If your pets are of the outdoor variety, then you should pay extra attention here. They are going to take the brunt of the heat and humidity this summer, so it is up to you to make sure that they are taken care of.

For less than $20, you can go a long way to beat the heat by investing in a reflective tarp and a kiddie pool. You don't need a huge tarp, but get one that at least can provide some shade and reflect the sun upward while allowing a breeze to still reach your cat or dog.

Attach it to a fence in your yard so that it shades the ground, becoming an awning. The kiddie pool is pretty self-explanatory, but you might err on the side of caution when dealing with it.

First off, empty and fill the pool every other day while taking some time to clean it out. You don't want that pool to become a home to mosquitos or algae, which will make your pet sick. In addition to taking a quick dip, your pet will most likely sneak a few drinks, and you don't want them drinking dirty water.

For those of you who exercise with your pets, adjust your outdoor schedule accordingly for both your safety and your dog. Try to do it early in the morning or after dusk. The pavement will be cooler and dehydration will be less of an issue.

If you are going out during the day, I suggest investing in a carrying bag for your dog if they are bigger. Letting your dog carry bottles of cold water on it will keep it cool. Toss in a spray bottle with cold water, so you can give your dog an occasional spray down.

I hope this goes without saying, but with the impending hot weather coming soon, there is no reason to leave your pet unattended in a car. Absolutely none. It's irresponsible and dangerous to leave your pet in a car or in the bed of a truck. A bad situation can turn fatal in five minutes if you shut your car off and leave it sealed up. If it isn't a car trip that you must take your pet on, leave it at home.

I don't like announce things that are obvious, but it will be hot this summer. A little bit of prevention and some ingenuity can go a long way in making it an enjoyable time for you and your pets.



Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at rrichardson@joplinglobe.com or 417-627-7363.