Late on Friday night, Micki Simeone decided that the best thing she could do for local pets’ tender paws was to keep them off hot pavement.
That’s why Simeone, the executive director of the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, decided to postpone the Hike on the Dike fundraiser set for Saturday. But Simeone still turned up Saturday morning to greet and thank disappointed pet lovers who came ready to march from the Humane Society’s headquarters and shelter, near the Port of Camas-Washougal.
“The hot sun is already baking this pavement,” said Simeone, who stepped from the shade into the street and found it already scorching at 10 a.m. While most of the walk along Washougal’s Columbia River Dike Trail would have been on packed gravel, not asphalt, Simeone said she decided that it was in everybody’s best interests — both pets and people — to call off 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 her visiting friend Greg Harris, of Clackamas County Dog Services, offered the following tips for pet owners who want to keep their animals safe and happy during the current heat wave.
- Fill a kiddie pool with cool water. “Dogs love to play in the water,” Simeone said. If you don’t have a kiddie pool, try a lawn sprinkler or misting hose.
- Provide lots of cool water. “Dogs can never get enough water,” said Harris.
- Cats need drinking water, too, but they hate pools and sprinklers. “Cats are smarter than dogs,” Simeone said with a laugh, and they know how to find their own shade.
- Fill a Kong dog toy with peanut butter, kibble or other cool — or even frozen — treats. Dogs love ice cream, Simeone said.
- Bring pets indoors. “Even outdoor dogs need shade during extreme heat like this,” said Simeone. A doghouse may look like it’s providing shade, but it’s really turning into an oven inside, she said.
- The same is even truer for hot cars. Both Simeone and Harris said their No. 1 tip was to not put your dog into a car in such heat.
“People think their dogs need to go for a ride, but it’s really people who seem to need to have their dogs come along for the ride,” 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, Simeone and Harris both said, don’t call any humane society; just call 911 immediately.
- Remember that streets and sidewalks absorb heat and wind up scorching. Sand can be hotter than it looks, too. Walk your pet on grass or dirt in the early morning, and don’t forget to take water along with you. Watch out for signs of burnt paws: limping, licking or chewing pads and paws, discoloration, blisters, redness or missing skin. If you see any of these, flush the area gently with cool, clean water.
- Watch out for heatstroke. Warning signs include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and seizures. If you see these signs, get your pet indoors and call your veterinarian.
- Stay cool and calm. Your dog will take activity and emotional cues from you. If you get busy and heat yourself up, your dog will, too; if you set a cool, mellow pace, your dog will follow your example.
The National Weather Service has declared an Excessive Heat Warning for much of the region through Monday night, with record-setting temperatures expected to rise above 110 degrees during the day. People and their pets are all advised to stay cool, drink plenty of fluids, limit outdoor activity, and know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke: headache, dizziness, feeling sick and/or clammy, loss of appetite, extreme thirst, and cramps.
The remedy: Lie down and rest, cool off, and drink plenty of fluids. If the person is vomiting or has a high temperature or fast pulse, seek medical help immediately.