It is that time of year when it gets hot in North America. If it is too hot for you, it is probably too hot for your pets outside. Is it that important to bring your pets in during hot weather? Yes, it is. The Humane Society (2018), on its website, recommends the following practices for “basic summer safety:
- Never leave your pets in a parked car.”
- Watch the humidity
- Limit exercise on hot days
- Don’t rely on a fan
- Cool your pets inside and out
These all sound like good ideas to me. My first source of information is always my local veterinarian. They know my animals best and are aware of the specific dangers in my location. There are also many animal associations and societies that can also help. Most dogs like to be outside, and some cats live outside as well. To care for these pets, the Humane Society also recommends that you provide ample shade and water. I could not agree more. Checking on the animal throughout the day is essential. If it gets too hot, remember to bring your pets inside from the heat. The SPCA (2018) recommends that before hot weather that you, “Visit the vet for a spring or early-summer checkup. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they are not on year-round preventative medication.” I always like to keep my animals on years round medications to make sure they stay in good health.
People love to take their dogs with them wherever they go. This behavior leads us to perhaps the most critical danger which is never to leave your dog in a parked car. The news has shown cases where vehicle windows were broken in to rescue a hot dog. Some states have passed laws protecting someone who breaks a vehicle window to protect animals from hot cars. In an article on their website PETA (2018) sums it up perfectly, “Parked cars are deathtraps for dogs: On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 100 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 109 degrees in less than 10 minutes.” Never leave your dog in a vehicle even just for a few minutes.
Another danger that is specific to dogs is walking. Again, I refer you to the PETA (2018) webpage where they say, “When walking your dog, keep in mind that if it feels hot enough to fry an egg outside, it probably is. When the air temperature is 86 degrees, the asphalt can reach a sizzling 135 degrees — more than hot enough to cook an egg in five minutes. Moreover, it can do the same to our canine companions’ sensitive foot pads.” Dogs love to walk, but we must be the adult and not walk them on hot pavement that can hurt them. Hot pavement can injure your dog’s paw pads along with overheating the animal.
Another danger I am always aware of is that not all dogs know how to swim. If there is a pool in the yard, a dog might get in and drown. Supervise dogs around any water sources.
In the summer months in the United States, we have the fourth of July. We celebrate our Independence Day with loud fireworks that can disturb your animals. You should keep the animals inside the house and no use fireworks near the home. Dogs may still react negatively to the loud noises and might need additional assistance. An old dog I had suffered all night from the sound. We bought him a unique shirt that fit him tightly and comforted him a little. I also stayed with the dog to calm him while the sounds occurred.
Be prepared by knowing the signs of heatstroke in animals. The Humane Society (2018) identifies the signs as:
- “heavy panting,
- glazed eyes,
- a rapid heartbeat,
- difficulty breathing,
- excessive thirst,
- lack of coordination,
- profuse salivation,
- a deep red or purple tongue,
- seizure, and
Animals that are old or in poor health are more susceptible to heat injuries. Furthermore, Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Huskies and cats with short muzzles have a hard time breathing in hot weather (HSUSA, 2018). The first aid for an animal that has the signs of heatstroke are (HSUSA, 2018):
- “Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
- Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck, and chest or
- run cool (not cold) water over them.
- Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
- Take them directly to a veterinarian.”
My wife had to dwarf rabbits that she placed out on a balcony on a warm afternoon so that they could enjoy the fresh air. Within a few minutes, the rabbits were making strange noises and were both suffering from heatstroke. We took the steps above. One rabbit died while we were trying to cool him. The second pulled through and lived for several more years.
Ticks and fleas are everywhere during the summer months. It is essential to treat your animal before these become a problem. If you have a dog, it is best to treat them for heartworm too. I treat my pets all years round for these dangers.
Pets left outside can become dehydrated quickly. It is essential to give them clean, cool water to drink. I bet you do not like to drink warm water and they do not either. I often place ice cubes in the water to keep it cool.
Pets can be sunburned if left out in the sun. This may be hard to believe, but under your animal’s fur, they have skin. That ski can be sunburned just like your head. It is best to limit the time your pet spends in sunlight.
You and the family might like to barbecue in the backyard during this time of year. Remember that many of the foods at a barbecue might be dangerous to your pet. Onions for one can be deadly. Check your menu and adjust it to protect your pets. It is best to do the same with your outdoor garden.
This summer your pet could be at risk of a hot weather injury, injury from being in a hot vehicle, or suffer from heatstroke. It is up to you to make sure none of these things occur. In this blog post, I have outlined the hazards and some protective measures to take. I encourage you to visit the websites listed in the references and learn more. This summer keep your pets safe.
Dogs In Hot Cars And On Hot Pavement | Peta, https://www.peta.org/issues/companion-animal-issues/cruel-practices/dog-hot-car/ (accessed May 08, 2018).
Hot weather Safety Tips, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Retrieved on May 8, 2018, from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/hot-weather-safety-tips. (accessed May 8, 2018).
Hot Weather and Your Pet – Cat Depot Home, http://www.catdepot.org/resources/library/hot-weather-and-your-pet.aspx (accessed May 08, 2018).
Keep Pets Safe In The Heat: The Humane Society Of The United States, http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pets_safe_heat_wave.html?cre (accessed May 08, 2018).