Humidity creates hazards for dogs

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COLUMBIA - With recent rains and overcast skies, veterinarians are warning pet owners that high humidity can pose a danger to dogs.

The Humane Society of the United States said most dog owners focus more on high temperatures and aren't aware of the hazards humidity can cause problems for dogs.

Elizabeth Hussey, a veterinarian at the Horton Animal Hospital in Columbia, said, "We see the most cases of dogs becoming overheated in the early months when they are not used to the heat and humidity. High humidity can be extremely dangerous especially if the temperature is also extremely high."

Hussey said that when dogs pant, it is a form of evaporative cooling. But, if the humidity is high, then moisture from the dogs lungs cannot evaporate and they cannot cool themselves down. That is when heat stroke can occur.

"If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke because of the high heat and extremely high humidity, the first thing you need to do is get them out of the enviroment that is hot and humid," Hussey said.

The signs that a dog is suffering from heat stroke can include disorientation, stumbling and rapid panting without taking deep breaths.

Humidity can increase with heavy rainfall. According to the Missouri Climate Center, rainfall in Missouri has been 2.7 inches above average so far this summer.