By KATIE LIBECCO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Between hectic vacation schedules and children being on break from school, families tend to take their furry friends for granted -- especially in the summer heat.
"The one thing people forget about pets is that when we're hot, they're hot, too," said veterinarian Dr. Suzanne Wilcox.
Dr. Wilcox, who works for Angels for Animals, also operates Diamond Ridge Equine in Hubbard for horses.
"The most important thing is to give animals plenty of water," Dr. Wilcox said.
"Pets need to have fresh, clean water that's changed at least three times a day," said Lorrie Byo, Animal Charity humane investigator.
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animal Charity, leaving a dog in a car, even with the windows cracked, can cause brain damage or death in just 10 minutes.
"When a dog pants, he's using more oxygen than what can enter through cracked windows," Byo said.
Leaving a pet unattended in a car is illegal in Ohio.
"It's against the law, and if we see it happening, we will prosecute," Byo said.
"If you have to take your pet somewhere, bring a responsible adult along. If you have to leave the pet in the car, leave them with the responsible adult and the air conditioning on," Dr. Wilcox said. "Otherwise, it's a death sentence."
Dogs need special medications for fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and flies. Fly bites can cause infection and pain to dogs. Prescriptions are available from shelters and veterinarians that are appropriate for your dog.
"A lot of times, over-the-counter products will not be correct for your pet," Dr. Wilcox said. "It's best to speak with a veterinarian."
She also recommends monitoring pets' eating habits. "It's not uncommon for a pet to eat less when it's hot outside," she said.
The same summer treatment techniques for cats and dogs applies to horses, which are especially sensitive to summer heat.
Horses require more water than usual on hot days to avoid dehydration and need to be kept out of the sun.
But unlike cats and dogs, horses are often used for work.
"When it's hot, I never ride my horse. It's just too much work for them to do," Dr. Wilcox said. "They wouldn't be able to handle it."
How to help
Often approaching neighbors and reasoning with them is the best method for helping outdoor pets, Dr. Wilcox said.
If that is unsafe or unsuccessful, Dr. Wilcox recommends contacting a local animal shelter, such as Animal Charity.
"You can leave information anonymously, but leaving your name is better. If we need to prosecute someone, it holds up better with a name," she said. "If I'm going in to prosecute someone, I want to know someone has my back."
"Call Animal Charity if you feel an animal doesn't have adequate shelter or water," Byo said. "We will respond to calls."