AUSTIN (KXAN) — As extreme triple-digit temperatures and humidity levels continue in Central Texas, so, too is Austin Pets Alive!’s call for dog fosters.
The nonprofit issued the special appeal Sunday, seeking foster commitments running anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks or longer. On Tuesday, shelter staff members told KXAN continuous access to air-conditioned environments would provide dogs much-needed reprieve from the heat.
“Right now, the way that we keep our dogs fresh and pretty cool in our kennels is we have fans and misters that sit in their patios, and they have access to water 24/7,” Javier Valles, a dog behavior trainer at APA!, said. “We make sure that we’re keeping a vigilant eye on all of our dogs — to make sure that these dogs are not overheating on our watch.”
APA! also offers shaded play areas for dogs to escape the direct sunlight, with miniature pools for playing in and buckets of water to drink from as needed. Staff also adds ice to water bowls and kennels for dogs, especially those that are double fur-coated or have short snouts, Valles added.
What signs of overheating should pet owners watch out for?
The big thing to watch for in the event of overheating is excessive panting, Valles said. Other symptoms of overheating in pets can include drooling, restlessness, lethargic behavior and an increased heart rate, according to RSPCA Pet Insurance.
Even if it doesn’t reach the severity of heat stroke, Valles said pet owners and caretakers need to be mindful of limiting dogs’ time outside, especially in direct sunlight.
Valles said pet owners should plan to take dogs for walks in the early morning or late evening to avoid peak temperatures and sunlight. When possible, avoid walking on concrete or pavement and prioritize walking pets along the grass.
If you do plan on walking your dog, use your hand and place it on the sidewalk or road surface. If it is too hot for your hand, it’s far too hot for a dog’s bare paw, Valles said. Dog booties can be used as a means of protecting their paws from extreme heat, as well.
How to become a foster
APA! staff can offer assistance to match foster families with a dog that matches their lifestyle, a spokesperson told KXAN. Additionally, the shelter provides medical and behavior care resources, foster dog training classes and emergency care services as needed.