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In the summer heat, it is essential for dogs as well as it is for humans to hydrate. Because dogs sweat through their paws, there aren't clear signs of perspiration and water loss like there is in humans.

Photo by Cpl. R.J. Driver

Beaufort heat wave dangerous for dogs as well

5 Aug 2011 | Cpl. R.J. Driver

Service members may have noticed gallons of water flying off the shelves of the seven day stores during the Lowcountry summer. Dog bowls may too be flying off cabinet shelves as owners attempt to keep dogs hydrated, keeping them from becoming a heat casualty.

A combination of adhering to the rules of base housing and paying attention to a few telltale signs gives beloved pets a chance against the heat.

According to Tamara Butler, an Atlantic Marine Corps Communities administrative assistant, pets are not to be outside leashed or unleashed when the owner is not present unless in a fenced in environment, and even then supervision is advised during extreme heat.

More specifically, the Community Guidelines and Policies booklet states, “The pet must be kept inside the home or within the resident’s fenced and gated backyard, if resident has a gated backyard; except when on a leash and accompanied by and under the resident’s control. Pets are not to be tied or staked outside the home. Invisible fences are not deemed to provide appropriate fencing for the housing of domestic animals.”

Just as service members would hydrate, dogs should too.

“In this heat, there should always be water available,” said Officer Cody Tallent, a Provost Marshal’s Office dog handler who also has five years experience training dogs. “At a minimum, a dog should be consuming two quarts of water every two hours.”

According to Tallent, a swig of Gatorade in the dog’s water will replenish their electrolytes and allow them to retain water better.
Unlike humans, dogs’ heads and eyebrows don’t drip with sweat when they are losing water, which makes it more difficult to tell when man’s best friend is in need of water, but there are a couple of ways an owner can quickly check their dog’s condition.

“By rubbing your hand up the dog’s neck, against the grain of their hair, you can tell if they are dehydrated or not, by how the hair reacts,” Tallent explained. “If the dog is dehydrated, the hair will stick up as opposed to lying back down.”

If the result of that test is not clear enough, an owner can try a capillary refill test.

“By lifting the lips of the dog and pressing a thumb against their gums, an owner can tell if the dog is hydrated by how fast the gums return to their reddish color after the thumb is removed,” Tallent said. “The faster, the better.”

Knowledge is power and so is hydration. Applying these simple tests and tips could be the difference of life and death for a pet.