The dog days of summer

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At Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium, visitors encounter all sorts of animal species like dromedary camels that not only survive, but also thrive in a desert setting.

Thanks to some amazing adaptations, these giant beasts can go days without fresh water and even longer without much food. Not so for our domestic pets! Even the most hardy, desert acclimated dog or cat needs an ample supply of food and water daily to survive.

According to, even a 10% loss of body fluids can cause serious illness in adult dogs. The small bodies of young puppies and kittens make them even more susceptible to dehydration.

Since pets come in all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels, the amount of water each needs per day will vary. Plus, animals that are more active will necessarily need more water, perhaps two to three times as much as their normal intake! It is critical then to make plenty of water available to them all day and night. Healthy animals will adjust their water intake as needed to meet the demands of the summer season.

However, unlimited fresh water and ample food is not enough for pets to survive the intense Sonoran sun.

While the camel may be able stand in direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day allowing its body temperature to climb to levels that would kill other animals, our pets cannot tolerate such extremes. If your pet can't remain inside the house during the day, be sure to provide them with constant shade. You may need to add even a fan, misters, or a swamp cooler especially during periods of record-breaking heat. And never leave your pet inside a parked car, even if it's just for quick errand. Sadly, children are not the only living things that will perish within minutes of being forgotten inside a vehicle. It happens every summer, so please don't let it happen to you and your family.

Additionally, if you plan on hiking with your pet for some "fun in the sun," be sure to take water for them, too! And remember, if that sidewalk or parking lot is too hot for your bare feet, it is too hot for theirs as well. If you plan a lot of outdoor activities with your pet, you may want to invest in doggie boots for pets with tender footpads unaccustomed to hiking and such activities.

Did you know Heat Advisories by the 3TV weather forecasters apply to our animals too? Be sure to tune in throughout the summer. Here's to a safe and cool summer for you and your pet!

Grey Stafford, Ph.D. is the Director of Conservation and Communications at the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium and author of the new pet-training book, " ". He appears frequently on 3TV with some of the zoo's fascinating animals.

Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium, which is located at 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, is open 365 days a year, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Daytime admission is $26.50 (plus tax) for adults and $14.25 (plus tax) for children 3 to 12; children 2 and younger get in free. Special evening admission to the Aquarium only is $16.99 (plus tax) for adults and $8.99 (plus tax) for children 3 to 12. For more information, call 623-935-WILD (9453) or visit .