The SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George’s County, Inc. is a non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to animal welfare. We do not operate the county shelter. We are chartered by the State of Maryland, but we receive no state or county funds. Our activities are supported solely by contributions, dues, and fundraising events.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Keeping Your Pet Cool in the Summer Heat Summer is officially here! 2015 is proving to be one of the hottest years yet, with record-breaking temperatures, high humidity and unpredictable storms. As the lively smell of barbecuing fills the air and beaches, parks and pools are packed with people wanting to enjoy some seasonal fun. But just like us, too much sun for animals isn’t always a good thing. The months of June and July are some of the most dangerous times for pets due to increased risk of heat-related illnesses. For us, sunscreen and sunglasses serve as adequate protection against harmful ultraviolet rays, but what about our pets?
Recognizing the signs of heat stroke
Simply put, heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature exceeds a safe range. For a dog, a temperature of 101-102 degrees is normal. The average body temperature for a cat is about 101-102.5 degrees. Unlike humans, cats and dogs are not as efficient at cooling themselves down. Canines and felines do sweat, but only through their paws.
Heat stroke in animals begins to occur around 104-106 degrees. If an animal's body temperature reaches over 106, the result can be deadly and immediate veterinary assistance is advised. The telltale signs of heat stroke are rapid panting and/or difficulty breathing, listlessness, glazed eyes, discolored tongue, unquenchable thirst, fever, instability, excessive salivating, vomiting, seizing and unconsciousness.
If your pet is overweight, very young, elderly or ill, it is particularly susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Brachycephalic (short-muzzled) animals will have a more difficult time breathing in hot, humid weather. Every owner should be aware of the symptoms of heat stroke. It might be the difference between life and death.
Helping your pet stay cool
Here are some quick tips to help your pet stay cool and comfortable so that both of you can enjoy the beautiful weather:
Avoid the daytime heat. The hottest part of the day is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Beat the heat by exercising in the morning or late evening when it’s cooler. Generally, the early morning is the best time for walks.
Be sure your pet has access to a good, constant supply of water.
Beware of walking on hot pavement, asphalt, sand or metal. These surfaces absorb and hold heat, which can easily damage an animal’s paws.
Be sure that your outdoor space has plenty of shady areas and clean water available. This is especially important for outside cats.
If you think your pet is overheating, help cool them down with a rubbing alcohol/water mix. Dampen a towel and gently bathe the paw pads .The evaporative action will work to reduce the animal’s body temperature.
Treats! Just like us, pets love using icy delicacies to cool down. While there are many lactose-free desserts available commercially, it’s just as easy to create your own. Try your hand at making peanut butter or chicken pup-sicles that your pet will be sure to love!
For those headed to the beach this summer, there are a few precautions you should take to keep your pet safe and happy:
Watch their salt water intake! Too much can lead to dehydration, vomiting and bloating. Be sure to keep fresh water and snacks on hand at all times.
Everyone knows sunburns are no fun. For pets, sunburns can appear as hair loss or reddened skin. Use sunscreen specially formulated for pets, which can be rubbed on the nose and ears to prevent skin damage caused by UV rays. Consider bringing along a blanket and an umbrella or tent to provide a cool place to retreat to when your dog needs a break from the heat.
Most importantly, make sure the beach you plan to visit is actually dog friendly!
PGSPCA & UMD Fraternity Pitch in with Shelter Project We were not surprised when the shelter accepted our offer to make food dispensers for the dogs. What we weren’t expecting was how many they wanted – 200!
That’s when Lourdes Celius stepped in. She is the 2014-2015 community service chair of the University of Maryland chapter of Delta Epsilon Mu, a national service fraternity. The fraternity was looking for a project that would help the animals. Making 200 food dispensers certainly qualified.
The dispensers are very simple: 10-inch long PVC pipes capped on one end with a screw-top on the other. Several holes were drilled into the pipes. A handful of kibble is dropped in, and when the dogs pick up the pipe or push it around with their nose or paw, food falls out. Using these dispensers provides enrichment and exercise for otherwise bored and frustrated dogs.
Collecting all the elements the fraternity would need was a bit more complicated: we purchased 10-foot long PVC pipes, sawed them into 10-inch lengths; ordered caps, adapters and threaded ends; and bought glue and drills. Once all that was delivered to campus, Lourdes organized a dispenser construction party for DEM. They had a bit of an assembly line going, with some members drilling the holes, the next group gluing the caps and the last group handling the screw-on tops.
We decided to start with 36 dispensers since this was our first attempt and we didn’t want to end up with 200 unusable items! The verdict? Kennel manager Rosemary Vozobule reported, “The pits love them as expected and can definitely use more.” She explained that the room where the dispensers are used has 60 runs. “We try to keep the toys with the same dog but in this environment they very quickly get messed up so we need to give them new, clean, filled pipes. It would be nice to have enough for backups.”
So, with a few tweaks to the design, enough parts for 48 more food dispensers were delivered to campus and the DEM members produced a second batch. When classes resume in the fall, we expect the fraternity will host more dispenser construction parties, and we’ll reach that 200 goal!
PGSPCA IN THE COMMUNITY
PGSPCA Kicks Off a Busy Summer Season We’ve had a barking good time meeting all of you at the local events in Bowie these past months.
Bark in the Park May 17 — We were at Prince George's Stadium with the Bowie Baysox for Bark in the Park, an annual canine celebration manned by rescue groups and dog-related businesses. The weather was purrrfect for seeing all those sweet doggy faces and talking about the PGSPCA. Our 5-month-old Labrador mix Daisy lapped up adoration from the younger crowd, and toddlers giggled while petting her soft puppy fur. She loved being the center of attention! Our collapsible hand fans created quite the stir with visitors to our table, who had a fun time trying to figure out how to fold them into themselves. Everyone thought they were a really cool idea. We handed out tons of pamphlets, foster/adoption information and gained a lot of interest in Daisy.
Bowiefest June 6 — Our volunteers had a great time staffing the PGSPCA table at Bowiefest visiting with all the local families and their four-legged friends. It was a little warm, so our doggy drinking bowl was again a hit, as were our hand fans. We used them to beat the heat while advertising our cause. Festival goers were thankful for a way to cool themselves while carrying our logo all around the fair. We had numerous visitors stop by and ask questions about the PGSPCA and even a few inquiries about fostering! Our adoptable dog binder was frequently viewed and many festival goers were interested in our pups. Daisy made an appearance for a couple of hours to greet her fans; she even took a few selfies! We passed out innumerable business cards and information on our spay/neuter clinics. Some of our former foster dogs dropped by with their families to say hello.
We are excited and grateful for all our new friends and can’t wait to get out and about again in Prince George’s County!
If you are interested in volunteering with the PGSPCA, then these events are for you!