Vet clinics reporting animal deaths in heatwave

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Veterinary clinics are reporting animal fatalities already in the summer heatwave hitting central Indiana. 

Veterinarian Dr. Mark Petersman with Noah’s Animal Hospital says some animals brought into his clinic can’t stand up. 

“It doesn’t take long for them go into systemic failure and pass away from it,” said Dr. Petersman. 

With an excessive heat warning in effect through Sunday, Dr. Petersman is worried about who will come into his office. 

“It’s bad. I’m not looking forward to the next few days,” he said. 

The heat can cause high fevers, brain damage, blindness, organ failure and bleeding or blistered paws, according to Petersman. 

Not only are animals already covered in warm fur, but he says their method of cooling themselves down isn’t as effective in this heat.

“With people, we dissipate heat from head, hands and feet. Dogs only have the ability to pant,” he explained. “A little bit can come from their pads as well but it’s difficult because their pads are on the ground and it’s hot, their ears are in the sun which is still hot.” 

He recommends shaving down thick or long fur on your pet, taking short walks early or late in the day, walking for no longer than 10-15 minutes, and walking in the grass, not the concrete. He also discourages playing fetch or encouraging your dog to exercise outside and says you should always provide cool water. 

The Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside (FIDO) provides resources to people working to bring their pets inside.

Darcy Kurtz, executive director of FIDO, says sometimes people want to bring in their dog but can’t because of allergies, fleas, house training, or animal aggression. 

“Sometimes because they’re big dogs, they’re outside dogs and only little dogs go inside,” said Kurtz. “The heat is life-threatening for any size any breed.”

FIDO provides medal indoor training kennels, flea and tick medication, and guidance on house training. 

FIDO also works with Indianapolis Animal Care Services to search for dogs in need, follow up on complaints and follow up on citations. 

The first citation given by IACS includes a minimum $25 fee and the second offense increases to $200 minimum. The animal involved may also be removed from the pet owner. 

Kurtz says her group has seen an improvement in the past few years, but they still work through the summer and winter to rescue animals. 

“We have a ways to go but having these care and treatment ordinances in place help us to educate the public and require dogs come inside,” she says. 

You can learn more at fidoindy.org or by leaving a voicemail at 317-221-1314 to receive a call back.