With the temperature sizzling in the triple digits and the weather bureau issuing hazardous heat advisories, pet owners need to take extra precautions to ensure the wellbeing of their animals.
Dogs and cats are as susceptible to overheating and heat stroke as their human owners, warned Devon Apodaca, executive director of the Humane Society of Imperial County.
He recalled from his days working for area veterinarians that people would bring in their pets suffering from the heat. Too often, they would have been confined in yards with no water or were left in cars.
Unfortunate situations, “but they do happen,” he said.
The very first thing, he said, is to never leave your pet – or your child – in a car while you run a “quick” errand even with the windows cracked or the air conditioner running. Something can happen anyway, he warned. Take the pet home first. “Things can go wrong quickly.”
There was a recent case of a dog left in a car. Rescuers broke into the car to rescue the animal but the dog didn’t make it.
Apodaca explained that the temperature inside a closed car can rise by 40 degrees within an hour. If it’s 110 degrees outside, as some of the recent days have been, it can quickly reach 150 degrees inside a car.
He said a story he saw posted on Facebook from a woman who said she had purchased eggs and left them in her car. When she got home, they were hard cooked. “Imagine what that would do to a dog,” Apodaca said. “It can become a death trap for the animal.”
His second recommendation is to bring the pet inside if possible, especially during the hottest part of the day from around 11 am to 5 pm If it’s a pet that normally isn’t brought inside, perhaps they could be confined in a bathroom or laundry room during the afternoon.
“It would make a world of difference,” he said.
Otherwise, make sure to provide fresh food and water and shade for the outside animals, Apodaca said. Staying hydrated is crucial on hot days to avoid illness. He even suggested setting up a fan near shelter for the pet, such as by their dog house. Even better would be a fan with a mister. Barrel fans that work well are available in most hardware stores. Other suggestions are putting ice cubes in their drinking water and providing a wading pool.
“Keep the animal as comfortable as possible if outside,” he said.
He noted that certain breeds of dogs are at greater risk for heatstroke, including boxers, pugs, shih tzus, English bulldogs and other bulldogs – any breed with a flat face. Also, take extra care with older dogs.
As for cats, there’s not a lot that can be done besides providing fresh water and food. He noted that being feral, they get acclimated to being outside. And do get them spayed or neutered.
Apodaca also recommended walking dogs only during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning. That is better for the dog – and the human.
“It’s never a good idea to walk pets in the middle of the day,” he said, as their paws can become blistered from the hot surfaces. If the pavement is too hot for your bare hands or feet, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws.