Summer is upon us and temperatures in many parts of the country are already alarming. While some states can still enjoy the spring weather, others experience peaks hotter than the August heatwaves.
It’s hard to beat the heat even with easy access to air conditioning, frozen drinks, and refreshing pools. Imagine what furry friends feel on hot days. Pets depend on humans for protection from the high temperatures and scorching rays of the sun.
It is estimated that at least 10 million households have acquired a cat or dog since the start of the pandemic, which represents a lot of new pets and potentially a lot of new pet owners. Some people may experience their first summer with their pets, and others may just go out more and take pets with them on runs or road trips. Best Friends Animal Society offers tips for pet owners on how to keep their pets safe in the heat.
Many people are surprised to learn that most experts consider that an outside temperature of 70 degrees is high enough that it can be dangerous to leave a pet inside a car, even for a short time. race. Studies vary, but many show that the temperature inside a car per day from 70 degrees can rise to 89 degrees in 10 minutes and to 104 degrees in just half an hour.
Best Friends conducted an experiment on a day at 95 degrees and found that the temperature inside a car – with the windows down a few inches – went from 69 to 140 degrees in 10 minutes.
Heat stroke can occur when an animal’s temperature reaches a critical level. Normal body temperatures for dogs and cats range from 100 to 102.5 degrees. When a dog’s temperature rises to 108 degrees, or a cat’s temperature rises to 106 degrees, they can suffer irreparable organ damage and even die.
According to vets, signs of heatstroke include intense panting that does not go away when the animal is resting, increasing distress, dark red to almost purple tongue color, weakness or collapse, excessive salivation , vomiting and difficult breathing.
If you suspect a dog or cat is suffering from heat stroke, immediately move them to a cooler environment and apply cool water to the abdomen, ears, and pads. To avoid shock, do not pour ice water all over the animal, submerge it in a tub of cold water, or cover it with a cold, damp blanket. Once the animal is stable, take it to a veterinary clinic as quickly as possible, even if it appears to be cooling down and its temperature appears to be normal. Things can happen on the inside that are not obvious on the outside.
A variety of situations like the extreme heat of a parked car, going for hikes or walks in the middle of the day, or just being in a yard without shade can cause an animal to overheat.
Here are some simple precautions to keep dogs and cats healthy and comfortable when the mercury rises:
- Keep animals indoors during the day. It might sound obvious, but it gets hotter outside when the sun is up. Brisk walks and bathroom breaks are okay, but try to keep your pet in the shade.
- If animals spend time outdoors during the day, make sure they have access to shade at all times of the day. Tied dogs are particularly vulnerable as they can become tangled out of reach of shade or water. Grass and greenery also help keep the yard cooler.
- Provide pets with cool, cool water at all times. During the heat of summer, the water must be drained and refilled often. Most dogs do not drink hot water, even if they are thirsty.
- Exercise the dogs during the cooler hours of the morning or evening, not during the intense heat of the afternoon. Older or overweight dogs, who have thick coats or sunken noses – such as bulldogs, Boston terriers, and pugs – are especially at risk of overheating. Bring water for you and your pet, or a collapsible bowl if there is a water source on your route.
- Be aware of the temperature of the sidewalk, asphalt, sand, or even dirt, as these can cause burns to your pet’s paw pads if they are too hot.
- Consult a veterinarian to find out if your pet needs approved pet sunscreen on exposed areas. Dogs with bald patches or minimal coat may need sunscreen, as well as dogs like Nordic breeds that are prone to sun-related autoimmune diseases.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car when the outside temperature is over 70 degrees. Even with the windows halfway up, even in the shade, even for a fast run. Dogs and cats can’t sweat like humans, so they pant to lower their body temperature. If they are inside a car, recirculating hot air, panting does not provide relief and heat stroke can occur quickly.
A little empathy goes a long way in protecting pets from extreme weather conditions. If it is too hot for us to stay comfortable in the car, in the yard, or on a walk, it is even hotter for our pets.
Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the slaughter of dogs and cats in U.S. shelters by 2025. For more information, visit bestfriends.org.