Veterinarian: Humidity also dangerous for pets

In addition to heat, humid weather can take toll on outdoor pets

SAN ANTONIO – Dog owners, don't let the weather fool you.  

Even though the temperature in San Antonio has yet to officially reach 95 degrees, there is still danger lurking outside for dogs: humidity.

With dew points in the 70s and moisture from spring rains still hanging around, the heat index can get into the high 90s and low 100s.

The Johnson family, who live in San Antonio, now know all too well what can happen with the right combination of the heat and humidity. Their daughter was walking their dog, Ziggy, a 127-pound Great Pyrenees, on July 3 in Hardberger Park when he collapsed and eventually died of cardiac arrest, stemming from a humid day.

"Humidity and temperature combined together caught them off guard (and) Ziggy overheated very quickly," said Dr. Bradley Book, with South Texas Veterinary Specialists on Sonterra Boulevard.

"Ziggy was a young dog. It was the last thing we expected for this to have happen (and) we were in shock," said Donna Johnson, Ziggy's owner.

Ziggy was a rescue dog along with Happy, a fellow Pyrenees also rescued by the Johnson family. The two dogs had been together for more than two years.

The loss hit Happy and the rest of the family pretty hard.

"They were always together so it really has been hard for (Happy)," Donna Johnson said. "(Ziggy) was a cuddly bug, 127 pounds of 'I want to sit on your lap and love on you.'

"They would lay out (in the yard) and I would do stuff. It's hard, it's just hard," said David Johnson, fighting back tears.

One of the reasons the Johnsons wanted to tell the story of Ziggy is that they know people may not be aware of the dangers that humidity can have on dogs.

"Other people need to know about this humidity and how it can affect your pets," David Johnson said.

If the temperature and the relative humidity are above 130, Book said to question whether or not to take your dog for a walk.

If you are on a walk, there are things you should look out for.

"If you start to notice your pet starts to do things not typical on a walk, (such as it) starts to slow down a little bit, wants to stop and take a break, starts to pant a little heavier, hopefully you brought some water with you, find some shade, take time to enjoy the scenery for 15 minutes and then pick up the walk again," Book said.

He also said that if your dog's core temperature gets above 104 degrees, that is when internal damage can occur.

Even though medium-sized and larger dogs are more susceptible to the heat and humidity, small dogs can also be affected.

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