The warm weather is officially here! Please keep in mind that your furry friends need some extra assistance to keep them cool and healthy. Pets are extremely susceptible to heat exhaustion/heat stroke and precautions should be taken, especially while participating in outdoor activities. You can prevent this by taking a few basic steps and watching out for signs of heat stress.
- Avoid strenuous activity on extremely hot days and provide adequate water and shade if your pet will be staying outside. Be aware that an area that appears shady in the morning may not be shady in the afternoon. A play pool in a shaded area can help outdoor dogs cool off on hot days. A garage is not a suitable area to house dogs during extreme weather since the temperatures inside can quickly rise without circulating air. Of course, we strongly recommend that pets live inside with their families – after all, they are part of the family too!
- “Short-nosed” (brachycephalic) dogs – Boxers, Pugs, etc., are extremely susceptible to heat stress. If your dog is a short-nosed breed or if he/she is small, overweight, ill, or old, make sure to bring him/her inside the house. If your dog has long hair, consider giving him/her a haircut for summer.
- Pets should not walk on asphalt on hot days. If it is too hot for your bare foot, it is too hot for your pooch. Consider walking in early morning or late in the evening or walking on grass when the weather is hot. If you are an equestrian like me, ride your horse early in the morning or late afternoon/early evening. Make sure your horse recovers from the exertion well, and consider hosing him/her off during the hotter parts of the day to prevent overheating and helping to keep him/her comfortable.
- Watch out for signs of heat stress – early signs include excessive panting and distress. A pet that is showing early signs of heat stress should be immediately moved to a cooler area and provided with cool (NOT ICE) water to drink. Gently wet the area behind the ears, around the neck, belly and paw pads. If the pet shows symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea or appears to be lethargic, get them to a vet immediately.
An important reminder to highlight is to never, ever leave your pet in a parked car. If you’d like to take your pet with you while running errands or when you travel, make sure you can bring your pet with you when you exit the vehicle. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20 to 30 degrees above the outside temperature in a matter of minutes, putting your pet at risk if left in the car on a warm day.
Many people are aware of the new law that states a person who removes an animal from a vehicle is not criminally liable for actions taken reasonably and in good faith. Although, this is true IF the person does all of the following:
(1) Determine the vehicle is locked or there is otherwise no reasonable manner for the animal to be removed from the vehicle; and
(2) Believes that forcible entry into the vehicle is necessary to rescue an animal from imminent danger; and
(3) Contacts local authorities – law enforcement, fire department, animal control, or other 911 emergency service; and
(4) Remains with the animal until the emergency responder has arrived; and
(5) Uses no additional force necessary to enter the vehicle; and
(6) Immediately turns the animal over to emergency responders.
A bystander must complete the process above to be protected against any criminal and civil charges. Breaking into vehicles to rescue trapped animals without following this process may result in paying for property damage or being charged with trespassing.
Owners must ensure their pets are always healthy and protected against the dangers of excessive heat. Now that you know how to keep your animals safe during the hot summer days, go outside and have fun!