This may be a very hot summer and with that comes cautions for our pets!
We dog owners love to travel with our pets, even just to the store and back, but we have to remember how dangerous the summer heat can be. During warm weather, the temperature inside of a car can skyrocket to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even in the shade and even with the windows cracked! A study conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine showed that temperatures may rise dramatically inside a car even on mild days. With outside temperatures as low as 72 degrees, researchers found that the interior of the car can heat up by an average 40 additional degrees within 30 minutes. And a cracked window provides little relief if any at all.
Dogs and cats don’t sweat like we do, they can only exchange heat through their pads and by panting. Those pets left in a car even for “just a minute” may suffer from heat stroke, brain and organ damage and even death. Think twice about taking them with you, unless of course, your destination is pet-friendly. They may love to travel, but this summer they might just like lounging in their cool comfortable home.
If you happen to see a pet alone in a car and they appear in danger, take action. Tell the nearest store manager and if the owner is not found quickly call the police and animal control. Time is of the essence!
Short-nosed breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih-Tzus have an increased risk of heat stroke, not only in a car but also just on hot days when they may get excited or exercise more than they should. Senior pets, especially those with respiratory conditions like laryngeal paralysis are at very high risk of heat stroke. Overweight pets are also at danger, and those with thick arctic coats can easily overheat.
We know our pets need exercise but it should be in the early morning or in the cool evening time when the fog has rolled in. Not only may they overheat during the day but the asphalt and beach sand can get very hot and even burn their paws.
The most common sign of impending heat stroke is vigorous panting. The pet may be restless and agitated, lying on their side and possibly unable to stand. Their mucous membranes may be very pink to red but could also be pale or even “muddy” colored. They may have froth or thick saliva coming from their mouth or they may even be rigid with their head and neck extended. This is a true emergency. Move the pet to a cool space. Begin to cool them with cool water, not cold water or ice. And get to your veterinarian as soon as possible
Our pets can also get sunburned just like us, especially light colored pets and those that have recently been shaved down or groomed. Don’t let them stay out in the direct sun. Always have a shaded area where they can rest and of course plenty of fresh water. Keep extra water bowls filled and in the freezer. You can put those out in addition to their regular water bowls and this will help them stay cool.
One last word of caution – please be aware of pools and the dangers our pets face!
Install a pet safely fence and make sure your pets are not allowed around the pool when you are not there. I have seen many cases of heat stress and heat stroke. Unfortunately, I have seen many fatal ones. Prevention is the cure. Follow these preventive measures, be aware of the signs of heat stroke and get your pets to the doctor in time to save their life!