Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Jayson Jacoby


Being locked inside a car isn't the only potentially deadly predicament for dogs during this torrid week in Baker County.

Simply being outside, running about as dogs are wont to do, can be dangerous, too, when temperatures reach 100 and the humidity is at unusually high levels for our arid region, said Dr. Matt Kerns, a veterinarian at the Animal Clinic of Baker.

"We had such a cool spring and now all of the sudden we have this hot weather and humidity," Kerns said. "I think we have a lot of dogs that just aren't climatized."

As with people, dogs that aren't accustomed to stifling heat are more susceptible to its deleterious effects, Kerns said.

He was treating two dogs for heatstroke on Tuesday afternoon, and neither had been left in a car.

In fact, both Kerns and Mark Berthelsen, another veterinarian at the Animal Clinic of Baker, said they rarely treat dogs that were left inside a scorching car.

"People have mostly gotten the message about that," Kerns said.

Police received at least one complaint on Tuesday of a dog being left in a car.

Paizano's Pizza posted on its Facebook page Tuesday that customers are welcome to bring their dogs to the restaurant's outdoor patio, where there are cooling misters and a pan of water for dogs.

But even for dogs that aren't confined in a car, this week's combination of heat and humidity can be deadly. A dog left outside in a yard with no shade can have its body temperature exceed the normal range of 101 degrees to 102 degrees.

Berthelsen said a dog was brought in Monday with a body temperature of 105 degrees. That dog was outside in an area without shade.

Although people who suffer from moderate heatstroke often recover without any permanent effects, the condition can cause major damage to a dog's brain, heart, kidney and liver, Kerns said.

Heatstroke can also lead to potentially fatal blood clots.

This week's rash of heatstroke cases in dogs prompted Kerns to post a notice on the Animal Clinic's Facebook page.

The Baker Veterinary Hospital has also treated several dogs for heatstroke this week.

Kerns and Berthelsen recommend dog owners make sure their pets have access to a cool area as well as a supply of cool water at all times.

They also suggest dogs avoid strenuous activities until the weather moderates.

Kerns said one of the dogs he treated for heatstroke on Tuesday had suffered the malady while accompanying its owner who was on a mountain bike ride.