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July 16, 2013 > Ohlone Humane Society: When it's hot out there

Ohlone Humane Society: When it's hot out there

By Nancy Lyon

At the moment it's pleasant outside with temperatures in the mid-seventies, but a short while ago we were all staggering under 100-degree plus temperatures in one of the worst heat spells in memory. The devastating impact wasn't just on the human population, animals suffered equally and many died from the intense heat.

With global warming we can no longer count on the weather being predictable so it's a good idea to be educated and be prepared, not only regarding our own well-being but looking out for our animal-family members. While effectively coping with discomfort from rising temperatures takes planning, there are a number of common sense ways to keep them cool and safe.

Leave your fur-kids home on warm days

You may be 'just' running into the store for a minute or two but temperatures can soar inside of a vehicle within minutes even with the windows partially cracked and in the shade. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes. When this happens your friend may suffer irreversible organ or brain damage; and leaving an air-conditioner on in the vehicle makes little difference on hot days. The best solution is to leave them home for their own sake.

Don't wait if you see an animal or child in distress in a parked car. Immediately contact the closest animal shelter or the police department, don't go searching for the vehicle's owner- waiting can mean losing a life; programming shelter or police contact information into your cell phone beforehand could save precious time.

Hot day rambles

One of my 'pet peeves' is when people unthinkingly exercise their dogs when common sense should tell then it's just too warm for his or her safety. On hot days, exercise should be limited to early morning or evening hours, always keeping in mind on morning outings that it will be hotter on the way back so limit your distance covered with that in mind. Short-nosed dogs have breathing issues to start with and exercise in even warm weather can put them at risk of heat stroke and collapse.

Your dog isn't wearing tennis shoes and hot asphalt can be sizzling hot and seriously burn unprotected paws so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Keep in mind, if you can't comfortably place the palm on your hand on the sidewalk or road surface - without removing it for a full minute - than it's too hot for your dog to walk on. Scorched paws are very painful and can be expensive to treat.

Shelter from the sun and heat

Heatstroke is life-threatening - when temperatures climb and a dog or cat spends much of her day outside in the yard, she can be in extreme danger if not provided with shade and fresh, cold water sometimes with ice cubes. Keep in mind that shade protection may change with the position of the sun and exposure increased as the day progresses. The ideal shade protection is one that provides continual air flow such as trees. Reliance on a dog houses is a bad idea as they obstruct the flow of air and trap heat.

According to veterinarians, some of 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.

At risk are the very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs-like Boxers, Pugs, Bull Dogs, Shih-Tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles, have breathing problems in extreme heat.

Emergency first-aid for heatstroke

Move your companion into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Allowing her to drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes is OK but the bottom line is get her to a veterinarian ASAP - her life could depend on it.

Dogs and cats are not the only animals threatened by the heat; rabbits, birds and other small animals are extremely sensitive to heat and can quickly die from exposure.

I'm sure that in their own way, your animal-family would thank you for caring about them.

Check out the following:
Dogs & Cats:
House Rabbit Society:
Avian, Pocket Pets & Exotics:
Back Yard Poultry:

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