By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
Recent Dog Days of summer – with intense high heat and humidity – turn pet owners to increased concerns about their animal friends’ safety.
One option is Doggie Day Care, where playtime intersects with shelter from the soaring temperatures.
Pooches Brinkley and Max wag their feathered tails with delight each day as they anticipate greeting other “regulars” at Tupelo Small Animal Hospital.
TSAH and other veterinary shops offer day and longer term boarding when pet owners need more controlled care for their animal friends than leaving them home allows.
Kristi Scheuer of Tupelo, who often ferries Brinkley and Max between home and day care, says it’s a great option for her family and their pets.
“We live downtown and don’t have a yard,” she said recently.
“This gives them a good place to play and get good care while we’re all at work.”
The canine day-boarding may be looking even better as Northeast Mississippi slogs through 100-plus degree days.
At Animal Care Center of Tupelo, veterinarian Dr. Shelley Key-Russell says she’s a believer in the benefits of Doggie Day Care.
“Many dogs need a social outlet – they get bored at home,” she notes.
Bored dogs can turn into unhappy dogs and difficult pets that look for ways to vent their boredom, like chewing on the furniture or digging up the yard.
Local day-boarding, as most places call it, runs about $8 a day and allows working owners professional supervision for their pets, along with convenient hours before and after work for dropoffs and pickups.
Generally, the facilities have staff dedicated to the day care operation and it’s not unusual to see them playing with the dogs.
“I’ve had a lot of owners say how much exercise their dogs get with us,” she notes. “They get home and are really exhausted.”
Jackie Tubb at Tupelo Small Animal Hospital on Thomas Street says their Doggie Day Care experience has grown across the past 10 years.
Some owners don’t want to leave their pets at home alone, she says, and others know their dogs like the day-long play with canine friends.
“It’s not for every dog – some of them just prefer their own company,” Tubb notes.
She laughs when she talks about all the doggie stories she’s collected from working with their clients through the years.
“There aren’t a lot of jobs that are this much fun,” she says.
Key-Russell says their practice built Doggie Day Care from an already hardy pack of their own dogs, which they brought to work with them.
She’s got three – a spitz, a golden retriever and a Labrador.
Their day-boarding sees 10-15 regulars and another dozen or so when the temperature starts to rise.
“It’s so funny to see them when their owners drive up,” Key-Russell says about the dogs. “They just run into the clinic, they’re so excited to be here.”
During these hot, humid summer days, Key-Russell and Tubb advise pet owners to check on their pets at home, even if they have shade outside.
Their day-visitors have air-conditioned facilities, but Tubb says that even with cool temperatures inside, the summer environment puts more stress on animals and they need more water.
Key-Russell also advises owners of older pets to be sure they get checkups to help determine if they have any conditions that may be made worse by the summer heat.
Their advice? Make sure your pet has:
• Plenty of shade.
• A big supply of cool water, and
• Attention to how the heat is affecting him or her.
Veterinarian Dr. Glenn Thomas recommends owners walk their dogs “early and late” to avoid the extreme heat of the day.
“I like to walk mine in the dark,” he notes.
If you find your dog experiencing heat-related symptoms like heavy panting or exhaustion, Thomas says quick reaction is crucial.
A quick cool-down is important before loading the pet into the car for medical attention, he says.
“Thirty minutes can make a big difference,” he adds. “Get a hose and soak them down.
“Cool them off as fast as you can.”
Then call your vet.
IF YOUR PET’S IN TROUBLE from heat:
• May be lying on his side
• Heavy panting
WHAT TO DO?
• Get a garden hose and quickly cool pet
• Apply ice packs, if you have them
• Call your veterinarian