WENATCHEE — At about 8:30 a.m. Friday morning, before potentially record-breaking heat set in, it was a pleasant 72 degrees at Walla Walla Point Park. Pepper, a nearly 3-year-old golden retriever, cooled off by taking a dip in the Columbia River.
“This is her favorite thing to do,” said Dianne Corder, a Wenatchee resident, as her husband Bruce tossed Pepper a ball. “Right next to eating.”
The Corders said that when temperatures are above average, as they’ve been over the past several days, they take Pepper out during the cooler parts of the day.
When they do venture out into the heat, Dianne said Pepper knows when it’s time for a break.
“When [Bruce] is playing with her outside, she just goes to the door and says ‘I’m done,’” Dianne said. “She self-regulates.”
While Pepper knows to take a breather, not every dog does. Jordan Gonzalez, communications manager for the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society, said it’s important to know the signs of heat exhaustion in animals. These include glazed eyes, heavy panting, excessive thirst and profuse salivation.
“If you see these signs in your pets, it’s important to immediately contact a veterinarian,” Gonzalez said. “A good rule to go by is, ‘If the heat is affecting you, it’s definitely affecting your pets as well.’”
Gonzalez said it’s important to keep pets inside during the hottest parts of the day. While this is simple to do with cats, it can be more challenging with dogs. She recommended that owners take their dogs on short walks in the morning or late evening. During the warmest parts of the day, pet owners should keep pavement temperatures in mind.
Hot pavement “can lead to blistering on really sensitive paws,” Gonzalez said. “If possible, keep your pets in the shade if they do spend time outside.”
Pet owners should also make sure their pets have access to fresh drinking water throughout the day.
“If possible, make sure the water is cool so your dogs are more likely to drink it,” Gonzalez said.
Pet owners should also leave their animals at home as much as possible.
“I know it’s fun to bring your dog along to run a quick errand, or thinking that I’ll only be in the store for 5 minutes,” Gonzalez said. “That can quickly escalate into dangerous territory because of how fast the car can become really hot.”
Even if pet owners crack their windows or park in a shaded area, Gonzalez said there still isn’t enough protection from the heat.
“When it comes to leaving your dog in a hot car, it’s not just unsafe and inhumane — it’s against the law,” Gonzalez said.
Skip Johnson and Kim George, who took their two dogs on a walk at Walla Walla Point Park on Friday morning, said their dogs’ thick fur makes the heat a challenge.
“Being the breed they are, they don’t shed,” Johnson said. “So, they need to be clipped. And they get warm real fast.”
George said her two dogs, Ginger and Rozie, also self-regulate their heat exposure.
“These two don’t push themselves,” George said. “They like to go out and get hot and get their fresh water that’s outside, and then they’ll just ask to come back in when the temperatures are really high in the afternoon.”
Current forecasts show the high temperatures will be in the triple digits through the weekend before cooling off early next week. An excessive heat warning has been issued for Wenatchee through 8 p.m. Saturday.