During this extreme heatwave, it is important to ensure you are staying hydrated and cool and mindful of your time outside. Heat stroke can easily happen if you are not careful. While it is important to consider the heat and its effects for you and your family, you also need to keep the heat and its effects in mind for the animals in your life.
When traveling with your pet, the CDC reports that leaving your pet in the vehicle is not a good idea because temperatures inside the car can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes even with a window cracked open. For example, on a 95-degree day the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 115 degrees within 10 minutes. The longer your pet is left in the car the more likely they are to have organ damage or die.
If your pet must stay outside during the day ensure that they have plenty of fresh clean water and shade. Trees and tarps are ideal spots for shade because a dog house will only trap the heat and could make it worse. If you plan on leaving a fan outside for your pets, that is helpful but it isn’t enough on its own because according to the Human Society, pets respond differently than humans to heat and regulate heat in different ways. Dogs sweat primarily through their feet. And according to Dr. Barry Kellogg, animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves. Water, shade, and breeze are a big help in ensuring your animal is safe outside.
If you walk your dog or play with your animals outside, it is a good idea to do so in the early morning hours or evening hours when it has cooled off slightly. The asphalt and concrete can easily burn your pets’ feet. A good rule of thumb is that if it is too hot for you to stand on the ground barefooted, it is too hot for your pet.
Extreme temperatures can cause heat stroke and it is important to be able to recognize these signs. The Humane Society states that the signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness. If you suspect that your pet may be too hot there are some steps you can take to help combat the signs. Move your pet to a cooler spot, apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over them. You can also encourage them to drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes.
As we enter into the Dog Days of summer, be smart about the health and wellbeing of all members of your family--even the furry ones.