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Protect Your Pet from Hot Weather Hazards

Tips for Protecting Your Pets from the Summer Heat

Summertime is almost here, and while many enjoy the warmer days and sunshine,
it’s important to remember that this weather can pose a serious threat to our pets.

While it may be tempting to bring your furry friend along with you on summer days,never leave your pet alone in the car. Rather than sweating like humans do,dogs and cats pant to lower their body temperature, and being trapped in a car,breathing hot air, heatstroke can occur very quickly. Read on to learn ways to ensure yourpet’s safety this summer.

Even cracked windows won’t protect your pet from overheating or suffering from heat stroke during hot summer days. It is illegal to leave an animal in a hot car. Doing so puts that animal in danger. If you see a pet in a car, try to determine if the owner may be in a store and page them, and if you are unable to find them, call 911 immediately. People have broken windows to help pets, although we suggest this as a last option after police are called.

In nice weather you may be tempted to take your pet with you in the car while you travel or do errands. But during warm weather, the inside of your car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even if you’re parked in the shade. This can mean real trouble for your companion animals left in the car.

If you do happen to see a pet alone in a car during hot weather, alert the management of the store where the car is parked. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police department immediately.

These hours are typically much cooler than the mid-day. Always be mindful of the temperature of the surface you are walking on. Even if the air temperature has cooled, their paws may still be at risk of being burnt. To test the pavement or concrete, place the back of your hand on the surface and hold it for a few seconds. If it hurts your hand, it will hurt their paws.

Again, pavement and concrete can get very hot and burn the pads of their feet. Your pet must always have shelter available to protect it from extreme temperatures and inclement weather.

Please be aware that older and overweight pets, as well as flat-faced breeds such as Persian cats, pugs and bulldogs, are more likely to overheat in hot weather.

Keep your pet away from unfamiliar yards and grassy areas as many people treat their lawns with pesticides and fertilizers, which can cause severe intestinal upset in dogs and cats when ingested. Some types of mulch can also be hazardous.  In addition, more than 700 plants can produce physiologically active or toxic substances in sufficient amounts to cause harmful effects in animals.

The sweet taste of this poisonous liquid is tempting to animals, but it can be fatal. Consider using a more pet-friendly variety of coolant that is non-toxic.

Provide your pet with fresh, cool water every day in a tip-proof bowl.

A matted coat traps in the heat, attracts parasites and can cause skin sores. Resist the temptation to shave off all of your pet’s hair, as the hair coat protects against sunburn.

Don’t let your dog ride in the back of an open vehicle unless inside a kennel that is safely tethered to the floor of the truck bed. It is very dangerous, and in some states illegal, to drive with a dog in the back of a pick-up truck. Not only can flying debris cause serious injury, but a dog may be unintentionally thrown into traffic if the driver suddenly hits the brakes, swerves or is hit by another car. Also, a loose dog can suffer from burns on the footpads when the floor of the truck bed gets extremely hot. Dogs should ride either in the cab (in a crate or wearing a seat belt harness designed for dogs) or in a secured crate in the bed of the truck.

With people and dogs spending more time outside, dog bites are likely to increase in the warmer months. Spaying or neutering your dog reduces the likelihood that he will bite and provides many other health benefits

Check with your veterinarian to see if your pets should be taking heartworm prevention medication. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can be fatal in both dogs and cats. Another warm weather threat is fleas and ticks. Use only flea and tick treatments recommended by your veterinarian. Some over-the-counter flea and tick products can be toxic, even when used according to instructions.

Heat stroke (hyperthermia) occurs when a dog severely overheats – most commonly when the weather turns warm. The good news is if the heat stroke hasn’t advanced too far (with body temperature of more then 104° F), you can help your dog recover.

It is important to know if your dog is predisposed to heat stroke, which is true of dogs with short snouts such as bulldogs, pugs and many other breeds. Other common causes of heat stroke include: a previous episode of heat stroke, leaving a dog in a parked car, excessive exercise in hot, humid weather (this may be exercise that your dog can usually handle but not in warmer weather), lack of appropriate shelter outdoors, thicker-coated dogs in warm weather and underlying disease such as upper airway, heart of lung disease.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include: collapse, body temperature 104° F or above, bloody diarrhea or vomit, depression stupor, seizures or coma, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, salivation.

  • Get your dog out of direct heat
  • Check for shock
  • Take your dog’s temperature
  • Spray your dog with cool water then retake temperature
  • Place water – soaked towels on the dog’s head, neck feet, chest and abdomen, turn on a fan and point it in your dog’s direction, rub Isopropyl alcohol (70%) on the dog’s foot pads to help cool him but don’t use large quantities as it can be toxic if ingested
  • Take your dog to the nearest veterinary hospital

During a heat crisis, the goal is always to decrease the dog’s body temperature to 103° F in the first 10-15 minutes. Once 103° F is reached, you must stop the cooling process because the body temperature will continue to decrease and can plummet dangerously low if you continue to cool the dog for too long.

Even if you successfully cool your pet down to 103° F in the first 10-15 minutes, you must take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible because consequences of heat stroke will not show up for hours or even days. Potential problems include abnormal heart rhythms, kidney failure, neurological problems and respiratory arrest.