Guest post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
It may go without saying, but I feel the need to say it anyway… you need to protect your pets during the hot summer months. Why do I bring this up? Because I was at a grocery store recently and it was 88 degrees and a relative humidity of close to 80% and a man pulls into a parking space next to us, gets out of his car, cracks the window and leaves his Rottweiler in the vehicle. Has this person not heard of the dangers of leaving a pet in a car? Of how quickly a car heats up? Of how your dog can suffer heat exhaustion and die… all while you’re in getting your groceries? I love Henrietta and don’t like to leave her home alone BUT I love her more than enough to know she is safe and protected at home and not baking in a vehicle. (On an 85 degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees,” according to the Humane Society)
Anyway… here are some tips to keep your four-legged family members safe during heat wave situations:
- Never leave your pet in a vehicle. No matter how quickly you think you will be in and out of a store, the vehicle heats up more quickly than you can imagine. When I drove cross country with Henrietta, I would put her in a purse and smuggle her into stores when I had to make a pit stop. Sure, I have the luxury of doing that because she is so small. If she’d been a larger dog I don’t know what I would have done but I certainly wouldn’t leave her in a hot car.
- If you are forced to evacuate your home because of a power outage (or other reason) take your pets with you. Whether indoors or outdoors, in sweltering heat, your pet can suffer heat stroke. Prior to weather emergencies (whether in the summer or winter) check with your local government agencies and see which areas are pet-friendly.
- If your city offers “cooling stations” inquire as to whether pets are welcome during heat emergencies.
- If you aren’t going to leave your home, you need to keep your pets cool. If the power’s out and there is no access to air conditioning or fans, you will want to open the doors and windows in the house and hope for cross ventilation breezes. Cover the windows with shades to keep the sun out.
- Keep your pet’s water dishes full and let them drink as much as they want.
- See if it is cooler to take the family and the pets outdoors and sit under a shaded area. If you have indoor cats, put them in a metal dog crate and take them outside with you so they can take advantage of the cool ground and the shade of the trees.
- If the power is on, gather all of the family and pets in a central location in the home, if possible, and take advantage of the cool air of the air conditioner or fan.
Here are some of the signs of heatstroke that you, as a responsible pet owner, need to be aware of:
- Excessive thirst
- Heavy panting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Lack of coordination
- Purple or deep red tongue
- Glazed eyes
Overweight or older animals are at a higher risk of heat stroke as are dogs with short muzzles such as pugs or boxers.
If you suspect your pet is suffering heat stroke, move him into the shade or an air conditioned area and apply ice packs or cold towels to his neck, head and chest. Offer small amounts of cool water or ice cubes to lick. Contact your veterinarian.