KINSTON — when Tammy Everett sees a dog panting alone inside a car in a grocery store parking lot, she can only shake her head.
As vice president of the Lenoir County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a self-described animal lover with the menagerie to prove it, Everett feels for man’s best friend when he goes neglected.
“People just don’t think about it,” Everett said. “It’s their baby. They don’t want to leave it home, but they’d rather leave it in the car. with the way the temperatures are right now, it gets so much hotter in the car, so it’s very dangerous.”
News stories describing ways humans can beat the heat are ubiquitous this time of year: Drink plenty of fluids, stay in shaded areas, limit outdoor activities, etc.
But Everett and other animal advocates say it’s important for people to remember that extreme heat can have negative effects on their pets and other creatures.
With temperatures hovering above 90 degrees — and heat indexes well into triple digits — for most of July, experts recommend that animal owners of all kinds take extra precautions.
“It’s hard on everyone, of course, especially if there’s animals that have minimal shade in the afternoon,” said Eileen Coite, a Wayne County Agricultural Extension agent who specializes in livestock. “when you drive by, you’ll see cattle huddled under trees. We’ve got to make sure that we give them plenty of fresh water as much as we can.”
The same advice holds true for pets, especially dogs. Dr. Megan Antes, a veterinarian at Countryview Animal Hospital in Kinston, said canines can only sweat through their paw pads and are left to cool themselves by panting.
When temperatures exceed 85 degrees, she said, dogs are at risk of excessive panting, drooling, coma-like symptoms and death.
“Any time that the pet is outside, they need to have access to shade and cool water,” Antes said, adding that her office has seen a drop in heat-related illnesses this summer. “Cool, clean water is very important.”
Everett, a retired probation officer, puts the advice to use on her family farm near N.C. 258 North, where she has eight dogs, five cats and two horses.
Three of the dogs and three of the cats live outside, where they’re provided with plenty of water. the horses, which have box fans in their stalls, cool themselves in a pond on the property and are hosed down at feeding time each evening.
Other types of weather can put farm animals at risk as well, Coite said. In addition to lightning, thunderstorms bring winds that can blow poisonous plants into pastures where animals graze.
Power outages can affect indoor livestock like some hogs and poultry, and standing water after a rainstorm helps mosquitoes breed.
“that can be problems for both the animals and the people,” Coite said.
Antes said cats are “a little bit more resistant” to the effects of extreme heat, adding that she hasn’t treated as many cats for symptoms as she has dogs.
Everett only takes her dogs on summertime car rides if she’s driving to the beach without a detour. Antes said it only takes 10 minutes for dogs to overheat in a car that isn’t running when the temperature is above 85.
“It’s just too dangerous,” Everett said. “It’s like leaving an infant in the car.”
David Hall can be reached at 252-559-1086 or at email@example.com.