Posted by tlhsny on August 6, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Everyone has to agree, it's been a truly HOT summer so far. As pet owner's, it's our responsibility to keep our pets safe and cool when the heat soars outdoors. Each year, thousands animals suffer and die from being left outdoors in the direct sun/heat, and from having access to poisonous plants, or contaminated water. The same holds true for animals that are left inside vehicles, or that are over exercised.
Here are some Summer Safety tips to keep your pets happy, healthy and safe:
- NEVER leave your pet(s) inside a vehicle! Even on days when it is a breezy day and only 75-80 degrees outside...the temperature inside a vehicle can soar to over 100 degrees when left sitting in the direct sun in a matter of minutes. Pet owners make the wrong assumption that if they leave the windows cracked that cooler air will move into the vehicle. This is NOT the case. Vehicles act like ovens, retaining the interior heat and cracked open windows make no difference. In many states, it's against the law to leave a pet unattended in a parked vehicle in a manner than endangers the health or safety of the animal. Despite these laws, not to mention a basic common sense that should guide most pet owners during the summer, companion animals die every year from heatstroke. The worst part is knowing that each death was preventable. That's why sharing this information is so important. Summers, after all, are truly supposed to be carefree.
- Imagine sitting inside your car, with no air conditioning, wearing a sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt and pants. The sun is shining, it's a beautiful day. 80-85 degrees outside, with the windows cracked a bit. There is a slight breeze, and you can stick your face up to the cracked window but you can barely feel the breeze. Within 5 minutes you are sweating and getting uncomfortable. You can switch on the airconditioning, and take off your shirt to cool off. But...your dog can't do that. That 5 minutes in the hot car will cause your dog to start to pant to cool off, and that is all they can do to try to regulate their body temperature.
- We have had to be involved with the Police to remove dogs that have suffered from severe heat exahustion in the past. Since animals can not sweat and cool off like us humans, they can overheat within minutes of being inside a hot car. A dog's normal body temperature is between 100-102degrees. Once their body temp rises above 104, they will begin to experience symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If they are not removed from that vehicle to cool down, they will eventually collapse and die. When left inside a vehicle, they can't escape the heat and a simple trip into the store for 20minutes can be lethal to your dog. If you have to make a trip to a store on a hot day, please...leave your pet(s) home. Too many animals have suffered and perished because of being left in hot cars. Their owners probably have not forgiven themselves, as each pet could have been spared if they had not left them inside their cars.
- Since dogs and cats can not sweat like us humans, it's important to keep them cool. Many pets will take care of finding a cool spot in your home to rest and relax. A good way to help keep them comfortable is to set up fans to blow cool air towards where they are resting, and also providing them with cold, clean water at all times.
- If you have animals that enjoy being outdoors, it's important that they have shelter and shade from the direct sunlight and rain. A simple dog house is a the best option, and should have waterproof roof and floor, and be the right size for the animal to fit into. Dogs that are left tied out for lengthy periods of time MUST have adequate shelter under the NYS Animal Cruelty law. It's common sense to most pet owners to make sure their pets have shelter and water. However, each year we deal with owners that fail to provide these basics for their pets.
- If you are planning to take your dog outside for a walk or hike, you have to be careful that your dog does not overheat. We have heard of dogs suffering from heat exhaustion from merely going for a walk on a hot day. The cooler times of day are better for exercising your dogs, as they won't overheat as easily.
- If you do take your dog out for a walk, hike or jog on a hot day, try to plan your route to cross by a lake, stream or other body of water where your dog can cool off. If you start to see your dog panting heavily and drooling, it's time to take a break. Give them plenty of water to drink, and maybe find a nice shady spot to relax.
- Summer is a great time to play and have fun with your pets, but you just have remember that they can get overheated easy and they rely on us to help them cool off.
- In case of an emergency, it's important to be able to identify the symptoms of heat stress caused by exposure to extreme temperatures. Check the animal for signs of heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness.
- If the animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, take steps to gradually lower her body temperature immediately. Follow these tips, and it could save her life:
Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or immerse her in cool (not cold) water.
Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
Take her directly to a veterinarian.
- Don't let your pets drink from puddles or run off near streets or sidewalks. Dangerous chemicals can poison your pet if they ingest water that is nearby vehicles or buildings. They make special travel dishes for dogs to drink out of that fold up and fit inside your pocket or backpack.
- If you know there are animals in your neighborhood that may be looking for water, you can place bowls of clean water outdoors for them. By doing this, you will give them a better option for water than drinking water that could be contaminated with chemicals.
- Keep a pet first aid kit handy. Pet owners may get a few scrapes and cuts as we are outdoors enjoying all the summer activities we love, and so may our pets. (See our Pet First Aid Kit Blog for making your own kit). For summertime, you should include sunscreen, as pets can also suffer from sunburns if they are left in the direct sun. They do make pet sunscreen, which most veterinary clinics or pet supply stores will carry in the summer. Bug bites are also common, and you can use most Cortizone creams on pets as long as you keep them from licking the area.
- If you plan to travel with your pets, make sure you have proper identification tags on their collars. A lot of times, a pet could get spooked and take off and the only way someone will know who to call is because they have a simple name tag. It's also important to keep a copy of your pet's vaccination history in your glove compartment or in your luggage.
- You may not realize how many pets run away and end up at our animal shelter. They do not have any form of ID tag, and we have to wait for an owner to contact us. Plus, to be able to claim an animal, most State and Local laws require at least proof of the animal's current rabies vaccination. If you are vacationing, and your dog goes running off...and you do not have proper ID or a copy of their rabies certificate...your dog could be in trouble. Some States and Cities only have a 3 day holding period before animals are placed up for adoption or possibly euthanized for kennel space.
- To be safe, and not end up sorry,...make sure you pet has some type of ID on your a secure collar. Microchipping is available through most veterinary hospitals, and having a Town or State issued Dog LIcense is LEGAL PROOF of ownership. A dog license tag will be issued, and along with a rabies tag or name tag, your dog will HAVE to be returned to you.
- Fleas and Ticks are a BIG issue in the summer months, so make sure you keep your pet up to date on their monthly dose of preventatives.
- If you have a pool on your property, make sure you keep your pet's access to it limited. Animals can fall into pools and not get out easily.
- Beware of gardens and plants. Poisonous fertilizers, plant food, and insecticides can be fatal to your pet if they happen to ingest it. Plus, more than 700 plants are poisonous to animals. Keep an eye on them around your gardens, and while you walk them around other places with plants. It is can be tempting to reach out and take a bite of a flower or plant.
If you ever see an animal in distress inside a vehicle, outdoors without adequate shelter, or running loose, contact your local Police Department, Humane Society or Animal Shelter. You can help save these animals by stepping up to make that crucial phone call and report.