SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's not just humans who get overheated and need rescuing during the hot Arizona summers. Our four-legged friends can fall victim to the extreme temperatures as well.
While people can sweat to cool off, dogs can only pant and use the pads on their paws to fight the heat. But that wasn't enough to keep one elderly dog from overheating on a long hike at the Gateway Loop Trailhead in Scottsdale this weekend.
"A call came out from a gentleman on the trail about a dog that was unable to make its way down," says Capt. Gary Burns of the Scottsdale Fire Department.
Firefighters had to carry the dog for miles on a special gurney, constantly splashing cool water on its head and ears after the pup could no longer walk. The animal had been walking for hours with its owners under the hot sun. "They probably did about six or seven miles on the trail," says Burns.
Capt. Adam Hoster of the Scottsdale Fire Department says while it's all part of being a firefighter, it's hard on crews hiking so far in the heat to rescue animals, but they were afraid the dog's owner would also become a victim of the heat if he tried to carry the 90-pound dog out on his own. "If he had to carry his pet out, he could end up being a victim himself," says Hoster.
Capt. Hoster says the best thing to do is leave your pet at home while hiking in the summer. While taxpayers foot the bill to rescue a pet from a mountain preserve, the firefighters who brought the dog to safety say it's money well spent, and all part of their job.
Dr. Paige Peterson of the Alta Vista Animal Hospital in Phoenix says if a dog is overheated, you don't want to cool them off too quickly, because it could lead to fatal blood-clotting.
The key is cooling them off slowly. "The best thing is evaporative cooling," the vet tells us. "Fans and wet towels. That's the best way to cool them down."
Peterson cautions that dogs don't know when heat exhaustion is about to hit, as they continue to follow their master on a hike. Once their temperatures rise above the normal 102 degrees, organ failure can begin. She says warning signs that your pet is getting too hot include excessive panting, high heart rate and the inability to move.