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“A 4-year-old pit bull died of heat exposure on a north Scottsdale mountain early Wednesday afternoon while with three hikers. The Scottsdale Fire Department responded to reports that the hikers and a dog were suffering from heat-related issues on Lost Dog Wash Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve just before 12:15 p.m. The hikers were in “heat distress” and the dog had already died when crews arrived.”
Hiking with your dog is a great activity; HOWEVER, your dog depends on you to collect some basic information like the weather and trail conditions and make decisions based on THEIR safety. They can not do this for themselves and they are more than happy to enthusiastically follow you to the ends of the earth on your adventures. Your dog’s life literally depends on you to make informed decisions and use common sense to keep them from harm.
The picture above was taken during a SPRING hike on Lost Dog Wash Trail; the same trail these hikers and their dog were on. There is NO SHADE – anywhere. The trail consists of dirt, small gravel, larger rock and shale. Although this picture shows the level portion of the trail, there are some inclines and declines to maneuver. There is no natural water source ANYWHERE. The high temperature on July 12th, which was reached during the time of the tragic hike, was 106°. There was very little wind, full sun and 20% humidity. This weather was not an anomaly; similar to the day before and the day after, it was basically a typical July day in Scottsdale, Arizona.
I don’t point out these facts to make the deceased dog’s owner feel worse – I can’t even imagine the sorrow they must be experiencing. I provide this information because, given these facts, those hikers should not have been on that trail, on that day and especially not at that time. They absolutely should not have exposed their dog, who had no choice but to follow them, to that level of heat and exertion. I have to assume they did not know
a dog’s body temperature is already higher than a humans; 102° to our 98.6°.
heat stroke begins for dogs and humans when the internal body temperature exceeds 104°.
breeds with shorter noses are far more susceptible to heat stroke
the rocky trail surface they forced their dog to walk on was probably over 140°
blisters and burns can happen within ONE MINUTE of continuous exposure to surface heat of 140+°.
Phoenix has a ban on hiking any Phoenix mountain trail with your dog when it’s 100+°
I have to assume they did not know that their dog could become overheated and die within a matter of minutes in those conditions. Because if they knew any of these facts, I have to believe they would not have gone on that hike and directly contributed to their dog’s suffering and death.
Unfortunately, this incident is just one of many situations that result in heat related harm or death to dogs. Hundreds of dogs die every year because they are left in cars while their owners – ‘just run in real quick’. Did you know that on an 80° day, the temperature in your car, EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS PARTIALLY DOWN, will reach 109° within 20 minutes. Dogs have very limited sweat glands, really only in their ears, nose and paws. They basically have 3 ways to cool down.
They pant BUT excessive panting from anxiety can actually defeat their cooling efforts.
They use conduction to transfer their heat to a cooler surface (like laying on a cold tile floor).
They use convection by exposing themselves to cooler air or water.
In a hot car, NONE of the dogs cooling mechanisms are effective. They quickly become overheated and within minutes can suffer organ and brain damage or death.
Heat stroke is not the only danger for dogs in hot temperatures. Last week I watched a women get out of her car at a local shopping strip parking lot. She opened her rear car door and out hopped a beautiful Sheltie dog. The dog patiently stood there while her owner rather slowly organized herself, getting her shopping bags and purse out of the car. They then walked across the shade-free black asphalt parking lot to the store. My car’s thermometer read 104°.
On a 99° day, with little to no wind, humidity or shade, the surface temperature of an asphalt parking lot is 160° At this temperature, it takes LESS THAN 60 seconds for blistering, burns and permanent damage to occur.
Don’t make your dog do the hot cement quickstep! www.petsitusa.com
It’s too easy to forget just how hot surfaces can get in the summer when we always have shoes on to protect our feet. Take time to do the 5 second test. Place the back of your hand firmly on the surface for 5 seconds. If it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your dog’s paws. Take your dogs for their walks in the early morning before the sidewalks and streets have had a chance to heat up. If you must get your dog across a parking lot in the summer; perhaps to a vet, grooming or training appointment, carry them if their size allows or invest in special summer booties to protect your dogs feet. Make sure the booties have a durable sole and are mesh on the top so that your dogs paws can ‘breath’. If you like to hike with your dog remember, gravel and rock surfaces can get just as hot as asphalt and they can also cut or injure your dog’s paws. If you can’t hike that trail barefoot, don’t expect your dog to.
I don’t like to jump on my soap box about things but when it comes to our animals, I feel compelled to speak up for them. Dogs will do anything to be with you. They love you. They want to join you on your adventures and have fun with you. BUT, much like parenting, your primary responsibility to that living creature is first and foremost, their well-being and safety. That is your job as a pet owner; regardless of how much you WANT to do something or think your dog WANTS to do something, you must gather the facts and make the decisions that protect your pooch…PLEASE.