Late Friday night, Micki Simeone decided the best thing she could do for the tender paws of local pets was to keep them away from the hot pavement.
That’s why Simeone, the executive director of the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, has decided to postpone the Hike on the Dike fundraiser scheduled for Saturday. But Simeone still showed up on Saturday morning to greet and thank the disappointed animal lovers who were ready to parade from the Humane Society headquarters and refuge, near the port of Camas-Washougal.
“The scorching sun is already baking this sidewalk,” said Simeone, who stepped out of the shadows into the street and found it already scorching at 10 a.m. , Simeone said she decided it was in everyone’s best interests – pets and people – to cancel the event and tell everyone to go home and stay cool.
The Hike on the Dike event has been tentatively rescheduled for July 10.
Meanwhile, Simeone and his visiting friend Greg Harris, of Clackamas County Dog Services, offered the following tips to pet owners who want to keep their pets safe and happy during the current heat wave.
- Fill a children’s pool with fresh water. “Dogs love to play in the water,” Simeone said. If you don’t have a kiddie pool, try a lawn sprinkler or mist hose.
- Provide plenty of cool water. “Dogs can never have enough water,” said Harris.
- Cats need clean water too, but they hate swimming pools and sprinklers. “Cats are smarter than dogs,” Simeone said with a laugh, and they know how to find their own shadow.
- Fill a Kong dog toy with peanut butter, kibble or other fresh – or even frozen – treats. Dogs love ice cream, Simeone said.
- Bring the animals inside. “Even outdoor dogs need shade during extreme heat like this,” Simeone said. A doghouse may appear to provide shade, but it really does turn into an oven inside, she said.
- The same is even more true for hot cars. Simeone and Harris both said their # 1 tip is not to put your dog in a car in such heat.
“People think their dogs need to go for a walk, but these are really the people who seem to need their dogs to go with them,” Harris said. But it’s smarter not to take that risk, he said, because even a car parked in the shade will quickly turn into an oven on a hot day.
If you see a pet trapped in a hot car, both Simeone and Harris said, don’t call any human company; simply call 911 immediately.
- Remember that streets and sidewalks absorb heat and eventually burn. The sand can also be hotter than it looks. Walk your pet on the grass or dirt early in the morning and don’t forget to bring water with you. Watch out for signs of burned paws: lameness, licking or chewing of the pads and paws, discoloration, blisters, redness, or missing skin. If you see any, gently rinse the area with cool, clean water.
- Watch out for heatstroke. Warning signs include intense panting, glassy eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, profuse salivation, vomiting, dark red or purple tongue and seizures. If you see these signs, bring your pet inside and call your vet.
- Keep cool and calm. Your dog will take activity and emotional signals from you. If you are busy and warming up, your dog will too; if you adopt a calm and gentle pace, your dog will follow your lead.
The National Weather Service declared an excessive heat warning for much of the region until Monday evening, with record high temperatures expected to exceed 110 degrees during the day. People and their pets are advised to stay cool, drink plenty of fluids, limit outdoor activities, and be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke: headaches , dizziness, nausea and / or wetness, loss of appetite, extreme thirst and cramps.
The remedy: lie down and rest, cool off and drink plenty of fluids. If the person vomits or has a high temperature or rapid pulse, seek medical attention immediately.