With steamy summer, MSPCA warns of animal heat stroke in Boston

Henry drinks from the dog water fountain and stays hydrated while playing with the other dogs in Peters Park in the South End. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
Henry drinks from the dog water fountain and stays hydrated while playing with the other dogs in Peters Park in the South End. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

Animal heat stroke is the leading cause of pet deaths in summer months, according to the Boston-based MSPCA.

Animals that are left home during heat waves are at risk if temperatures within the residence reach 80 degrees or more, and can benefit from fans and air conditioners, said Dr. Kiko Bracker of Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.

Pet owners should also heed age-old warnings about leaving animals in a hot car, even momentarily, as the MSPCA sees those cases regularly.

“…We absolutely do see a small handful of these cases every year,” said Bracker. “We just had a dog in the emergency and critical care unit whose otherwise very responsible owner stopped at a store last week, walked inside to place a call, and within moments the dog left inside his car overheated. The owner immediately brought the dog to Angell but we were unable to save him and he died shortly after he was admitted. These cases are tragic and absolutely can be avoided: pet owners should never leave their pets in their cars in the summer time.”

Bracker also recommended that pet owners walk their dogs in the early morning or late evening, and always carry water on hand.

A somewhat unknown risk to animals during the summer months is choking, according to the MSPCA.

In addition to the heat, the shelter also treats dozens of the barbecue-related injuries every summer.

“Dogs swallow more corn cobs and peach pits than any other dangerous food time,” MSPCA Spokesman Rob Halpin said in an email. “Round cob parts and peach pits cannot be digested and can become lodged in the intestines. Bones can also be accidentally ingested and caught in the esophagus or intestines, which can be life threatening.”

According to Halpin, in many cases surgery is required to remove these objects from dogs’ stomachs. Angell veterinarians stress that the best treatment is prevention—so these items should never be placed within reach of canine pets.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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