Heat emergencies involving canines are an unfortunate yet preventable occurrence on our urban trails. The desert heat can kill a dog and their owner could be charged with animal cruelty under State law. It is the owner’s responsibility to take necessary precautions to keep their dog safe. While they are excited to join their human companions wherever they may roam, the concern for how they may fare in the desert sun is real.
A recent review of rescues on Scottsdale trails shows that canine heat-related incidents typically have the highest mortality rates.
Dogs do not sweat the way humans do. They exchange heat through panting and to a minor degree, through their feet pads, according to the American Kennel Club. Additionally, our canine friends do not tolerate high environmental temperatures as well as humans do.
“Remember, a sidewalk and natural rock surface can radiate very high temps,” says Captain Dave Folio. “If it’s 90-degree atmospheric temp, the potential surface temperature is 135 degrees.”
Scottsdale Fire and the staff and volunteers who work in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve and parks encourage trail users to carefully consider the potential danger to their pet before bringing them on a hiking adventure.
- Leave your dog at home if it will be 90+ degrees at any time during your outing.
- Know your dog’s limitations and abilities.
- If it is too hot for your bare feet on the ground, it is too hot for your dog’s feet.
- Assess the environmental conditions.
- Carry plenty of water for both you and your dog; and be at least half done with the hike when the water is half gone.
- Cool vests and trail booties for dogs are available and are very efficient.
- Begins with heavy panting/signs of difficulty breathing
- Tongue/gums appears bright red with thick saliva
- Skin elasticity (when pinched, does not snap back)
- Worsens if dog vomits, becomes unsteady, lethargic, unwilling to move (Core temp in the 104-degree range)
- Lips/membranes become blue/gray
- Rapid on-set collapse, seizure, unconsciousness and death
What to do
- Immediate cooling of body with water, cool packs to groin, where legs meet the body, neck
- Remove from heat immediately!
- Get to Veterinarian (Consequences of heat emergency = kidney failure, heart irregularities, other system failures, death)