Keep ’em Cool, Prevent Heat Distress and Heatstroke in Dogs

KeepemcoolFor immediate release – July 17, 2015

Contact:  Thea Rock, Communications Manager, trock@jeffco.us or 303-271-5902

As the heat of mid-summer grips Colorado, Jeffco Open Space and Jefferson County Animal Control urge park visitors to take precautions to keep dogs from suffering heat distress and heatstroke.

Through prominent signs at trailheads, videos (bit.ly/keepemcool), contacts in the field and social media, Jeffco Open Space is promoting dog safety in the dog days of summer.

Last year Park Rangers responded to 12 incidents of heat distress in dogs. Sadly, four dogs did not make it after suffering heatstroke.

Help keep dogs safe. Know how to prevent and treat overheating.

  1. Leave dogs at home when it’s hot, not in your car.

Remember, it’s probably just as hot on the trail as it is in your neighborhood, and dogs wear fur coats. Never leave dogs in the car while recreating in a park. Park Rangers and Jefferson County Animal Control have been responding to calls about this issue, which can be cited as Animal Cruelty and Neglect and constitutes a violation of state statute.

Avoid hot trails and pavement.

If you can’t hold the back of your hand on the surface of the ground for longer than a count of five or walk barefoot, it’s too hot for dogs.

  1. Prevention is the best cure.
  • Offer water frequently.
  • During the hottest part of the year, consider ending park adventures by 10 a.m. or starting after 4 p.m.
  • Dogs release heat from only a few places on their bodies. Paw pads are the only place where they sweat. Dogs also cool through their pits, the insides of their ears and their bellies. A bandana dipped in cool water feels good in those places. Wet your dog down, and when it’s safe, allow to wade on leash.
  1. The threat of heatstroke is real.

Heatstroke is dangerous to dogs and their owners. When a dog’s temperature goes too high, it may start to stumble, vomit or have diarrhea. Heatstroke starts with heat distress. Early signs of distress are:

  • Rapid panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  1. Treat heat distress and heatstroke immediately.

Seek shade. Give the dog cool water, and place cool, wet cloths or bandanas on feet, stomach and around its head. Fan air around the dog and get it to a veterinarian right away. Don’t use cold water or icKeepemcool2e, as this could make the situation worse.

In short, Keep ’em Cool!

Jeffco Open Space was founded as a land conservation organization in 1972 to preserve land, protect park and natural resources and provide healthy nature-based experiences.  Funded with a one-half of one percent sales tax, the agency has preserved over 53,000 acres and created 28 regional parks and 230 miles of trails in Jefferson County.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was founded in November 1859 and today serves 550,000 residents of Jefferson County with a patrolling responsibility to 189,720 residents in the unincorporated areas of the 773 square miles of the county. As chief law enforcement officer of the county, Sheriff Jeff Shrader oversees the largest full-service sheriff’s office in Colorado with 542 state certified deputies and 283 professional staff.  Additionally, about 300 volunteers support Sheriff’s operations.

Many Thanks,

Will Lebzelter, Communications Associate, jeffco.us/parks

D 303-271-5961, C 720-556-3353

About the author /


Michelle Poolet

PLAN Jeffco Board Member. Michelle Poolet is a relative new-comer to PLAN Jeffco, but not to the world of volunteer work. She has been on the Board of PLAN Jeffco since 2008, and in that time has worked hard to ensure the success of various PJ conferences and events. She is part of the PLAN Jeffco web content subcommittee, and liaisons between the PLAN Jeffco Board and the Open Space Advisory Committee. Her “day job” is as President and Chief Enterprise Architect of Mount Vernon Data Systems, a BBB A+ accredited database consulting company. Michelle lives on Lookout Mountain, in unincorporated JeffCo, with her best pal, TessaRose the collie, with whom she enjoys daily trekking in the forests.

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