‘Have you ever been to Woofstock?’ I was asked. The event, full of vendors sharing information and products for dogs and their people is described as ‘a large outdoor festival designed for dogs and the people who love them. The event has entertainment, contests and a consumer showcase. Vendors offer up the latest in canine fashions, furnishings, products and food, and contests unleash the best mutts in every size, breed and pedigree. Sadly, for me, the event conjures up the memory of a tragedy which followed the event in 2012. On the way home from Woofstock, a young woman stopped at Vaughan Mills shopping centre and left her dog in the hot car. Her dog died.
“A couple leaving their dog in the car on a day that hot is inconceivable and extremely irresponsible,” founder (of Woofstock) Marlene Cook said in a statement emailed to media following the tragedy.
Another reason I have never attended the event; in addition, to being held in mid-June, Woofstock had also taken place in Toronto’s downtown area. This may be fine for humans with soles to their shoes, however not pleasant for dogs walking in the summer heat, along the scorching hot pavement. One way dogs attempt to cool down is through the pads of their feet.
This year however, I am very pleased to learn the event has moved and occurred at the end of May in Woodbine Park, near the beach.” Now it will be as much fun for the dogs as it is their people.
Sadly, some dog owners are still unaware, or choose to ignore the effects of heat on their companions. Too many dogs succumb to heat stroke when it could have been avoided. Dogs pant to exchange warm air for cool air. When air temperature is close to body temperature, cooling by panting is not an efficient process. The inside of a car on a hot day far surpasses the body temperature.
Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is precious little time before serious damage – or even death – can occur. If a dog cannot effectively expel heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise. Once the dog’s temperature reaches 106°, damage to the body’s cellular system and organs may become irreversible.
I do not understand why people are willing to the chance and put their companions at risk. Nothing can be worth causing such discomfort or torture, and the possibility of death. It is up to us to keep them safe.
Hot dogs are for BBQ’s. Please leave your dogs at home or stay in the air conditioned car with them – someone can run into the store for you. If you’re on your own, don’t stop!
Be vigilant – look for the following signs of distress and act quickly to prevent heatstroke:
•Unusual breathing – rapid and loud
•High rectal temperature (see how to take this below)
•Weakness and/or fatigue
•A bright red tongue and pale gums
•Skin around muzzle or neck doesn’t snap back when pinched
•Collapse or coma
•Increased heart rate
Signs of burned pads:
•limping or refusing to walk
•licking or chewing at the feet
•pads darker in color
•missing part of pad
•blisters or redness