By the time you or the person with you asks this question, it’s likely Fluffy – whether he (or she) is a dog, cat, ferret, rat, bird, or whatever companion you're taking with you to the fair or the outdoor concert – is already approaching dehydration and overheating. While you’re asking the question, your pet’s system is trying, and perhaps failing, to compensate for the overheating and stress of constant motion and interaction with other people and other animals. So what’s a poor pet owner to do?
The answer is simple: take Fluffy to a pet comfort station featuring water, ice packs, and first aid. Every outdoor event needs a pet comfort station, whether it’s being held during the summer swelter or the chill of winter (animals can suffer just as much from the cold as from the heat). Any time people bring their pets to outdoor events, the pets run the risk of becoming dehydrated and overheated or chilled. And by the time the owners or guardians notice that their pet is panting awfully hard, or failing to keep up with them, or any of a dozen symptoms, the animal is already in stress and moving towards a real medical problem.
It’s quite likely that the events in your area don’t have pet comfort stations. There’s a simple solution to that: you and your friends and/or family can set up and run one yourself! It’s a terrific idea, addresses a tremendous need, and gains you the friendship and appreciation of pet lovers throughout your area.
This site provides the information you need to get a pet station up and running. The pages in the left column will get you started.
One quick method for testing your dog or cat for dehydration is to “pinch” up the skin on his or her neck. A well-hydrated animal’s skin will return to normal immediately. A dehydrated animal’ skin will remain “tented” for several moments.
If your animal is suffering from sticky eyes, has sticky saliva, or fails the “pinch” test, he is suffering from dehydration and very possibly from heat exhaustion. Getting him or her cared for at the pet comfort station is a good short-term solution, but you need to take your pet to the veterinarian. If your pet is suffering from diarrhea or vomiting, or worse, is stumbling, shaking, having a seizure, or is semi-conscious, you need to drop everything and get your pet to the vet immediately.