|Alana, Photo by Claire Clayton|
We love our pets and we love having them with us, but there are times when they are much safer and happier at home.
I'm a huge fan of Summer. I love these sunny days, especially because I live in place where Winter seems to last forever. Lots of snow, brutally cold days and nights, grey skies. Summer seems like a special blessing.
|Redbear Photo Courtesy Nancy Ross|
Here's the truth of what happens while your pets are inside the car. The temperature inside the car will rise 40º F. in an hour even when it's only 72º outside and most of that happens within the first half hour. You cracked your windows open? Sorry, but that won't stop the heat from rising. On a hot day a car can reach 120º within minutes and heatstroke can happen even if you leave your car in the shade. Even leaving the car running with the air conditioner on doesn't guarantee your pets' safety. In fact, some dogs have been known to accidentally move the shift with the car and the dog headed for an accident.
The best place for your dog is in your air conditioned home. Home will be cooler and more comfortable than your car which is little more than a big box filled with heat when you park it.
|Hunnybear Photo Courtesy Nancy Ross|
Keep in mind that black dogs and cats will retain heat and will get hotter even faster than dogs and cats of other colors. Brachycephalic dogs and cats (those with short noses) like Pekingese, Persian Cats, Bulldogs, Pugs, etc. have a difficult enough time breathing in cooler weather. It's far more difficult for them on hot days.
Cats need to be indoors for their safety and both cats and dogs need fresh water available at all times. I highly recommend using rotating metal water dishes, keeping on in the freezer while the other is out. When the ice has melted and the water begins to get warm, spill it out (perhaps into your plants if you have any that are safe for pets to be around), refill it and pop it in the freezer while you take the other one out for your pets. I have often written about this and I can only hope that readers pay attention. I like to give puppies, kittens, dogs and cats ice cubes to play with. Not only does it help keep them cool but if your pet gets sick and needs to be slowly rehydrated, an ice cube will do the trick and will already be something familiar.
|Bojangles Photo Courtesy Gordon Brice|
Be aware of the signs of heatstroke. They include but aren't limited to excessive panting, tongue and/or gums are bright red, tongue and/or gums can be either sticky or dry, staggering when trying to walk, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, seizures. Your dog can die. That is not an exaggeration.
Get your dog into the shade, use cool, not ice water (very cold water will restrict the blood vessels, slowing the cooling), use cool wet towels on your pets feet and around the head. You may also want to put one on the tummy. Don't let the body cool below 103º. Offer ice cubes but don't force your pet to drink water. Get your pet to the veterinarian as fast as you can.
|Cat (that's his name) Courtesy Karin Bundy|
Be aware of the temperature. Don't exercise your pet to excess in the heat. All things in moderation, including playtime which is better in the early evening. If it's a hot evening, exercise caution.
Enjoy the Summer and be sure it's a safe one for everyone!