Pets need extra care during hot smummer months

Norman spends most of his time spread out on a couch in the air conditioning.


Jasper just got a new cooler, closer haircut.


Devil gets a light coat of sunscreen before she’s out in the sun.


And Carolyn Belcke’s 17 "babies" stay in the shade or inside, but aren’t given a pool to splash around.


"I can’t do the pool bit," Belcke said Tuesday. "Seventeen dogs rolling in one pool gets to be too much."


Whichever way it’s done, animals need help staying cool in the summer, too.


Lauren Malmberg keeps Norman, her half Great Dane, half Irish Wolfhound, indoors most of the summer.


The PAWS animal shelter director knows Norman loves activity, but he doesn’t get as much strenuous exercise in the warm summer months. She monitors Norman to make sure he doesn’t overheat.


"He would run for days if you let him," she said.


Dogs can’t cool their bodies in the heat, and Malmberg advised against jogging with dogs because of it.


Two dogs died in their own backyard on Father’s Day weekend because of the heat, Malmberg said. They didn’t get enough water or shade, which can lead to overheating and death.


PAWS typically gets a call a day reporting a pet locked in a car, Malmberg said. Even with windows open, car temperatures on a hot day can reach 160 degrees after only a few minutes, according to PAWS.


Signs a dog is overheating include heavy panting, extra hot skin, fur falling out in clumps, glazed eyes, lethargic behavior and little to no urine or feces output.


Short-nosed animals like pugs and Boston terriers quickly get overheated, said Gina Bickett, a veterinarian technician at Mount Hawley Animal Clinic. So animals should not be left outside unattended.


Some animal owners will pull out kiddie pools for pets to take a quick dip.


"They smell a little bit after that," Belcke said, but keeping pets cool is the key. "It doesn’t take long for them to get overheated."


Deeper pools should be fenced off from the rest of the backyard to avoid dog visitors who don’t know how to swim, a tip from the World Wide Pet Industry Association. For dogs swimming in rivers or lakes, be sure to limit water time since dogs get overexerted and can’t always swim back to shore.


Bickett also said white animals are particularly susceptible to sun burn, so pets should be prepared or just stay out of the sun.


Devil, Bickett’s white cat with gray spots on her head, gets a light coat of sunscreen on her ears.


But owners should ask vets before applying any kind of sunscreen, Malmberg said. They should also be consulted before shaving any animals, she added. Shaving a dog can make it more susceptible to sunburn and bug bites.


For Belcke, keeping her pups’ fur trimmed is key to keeping them cool.


Her 17 Cocker Spaniels are groomed once a week, which is excessive for some breeds, but appropriate for these show dogs.


"If you’re uncomfortable with the weather, think about your dog. They got a fur coat," she said.


Belcke owns Bell-keys Cockers and Kennels in Peoria. She’s been boarding and raising small dogs for 27 years, and knows that depending on the dog breed, the longer the hair, the hotter the pup gets.


Some dogs with thicker, more wiry fur might have trouble growing their coat back evenly. But if the dog’s fur is worn short all the time, it doesn’t make much difference, said Terri Trainer, owner of The Clipp Joint on Farmington Road.


Trainer has 13 miniature Dachshunds and a Labradoodle. She was giving Jack, a 1½-year-old Goldendoodle, a buzz at her shop Tuesday morning, trimming his thick fur into a cooler summer ‘do.


Even poodles aren’t given "foo foo" cuts in the summer anymore, she said.


"It just really isn’t a feasible thing," she said.



Cathy Bayer can be reached at 686-3196 or