Help Your Pets Keep Their Cool This Summer

Tips On Helping Your Pets Beat The Heat

Even with open windows, temperatures in cars can quickly become too much for dogs to handle. The best way to keep them safe while you’re running errands is to leave them home. (Image courtesy VeterinaryClinic.com.)

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

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The Mercer County Animal Shelter is asking people to think before leaving their dogs alone in cars during the summer.

Recently, Abby Jones, the rescue coordinator at the animal shelter, found a black lab in an SUV in the Walmart parking lot.

According to a Facebook post, the dog was in the car at least 10 minutes before the owner returned.

According to the American Humane Society, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise from 85-degrees to 102-degrees within 10 minutes, even with the windows opened slightly.

Dogs sweat through their feet but they dissipate heat by panting, which leaves smush-faced breeds like pugs, bulldogs or Shih Tzus more prone to overheating.

The normal body temperature for a dog is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature should never exceed 104 degrees, according to the Humane Society.

While some owners believe parking in the shade can help keep their dogs cool, shade doesn’t help with humidity and when the humidity goes up, the efficiency of panting to dispel body heat goes down.

“Within six minutes, a dog can perish,” said Wendy Quiggle, the director of the Mercer County Animal Shelter, “that’s with all four windows cracked.”

In Kentucky, it is not illegal to leave a pet in the car. But it is illegal to leave an animal in a situation that is likely to cause them harm.

Quiggle recommended people call 911 if they find an animal in distress.

Signs of heat-related illness/heat stroke:

  • Heavy panting, excessive drooling, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, unsteadiness/staggering, bloody vomit, bloody diarrhea or nose bleed, dry, deep red or purple tongue, hemorrhages in the gums or under skin, coma/death.
  • A temperature over 104˚F.

Protecting your pets during the summer

Summer can be a dangerous time for dogs, and not just in cars. Here are some tips on keeping your dog safe during the summer, according to the American Humane Society.

  • Limit exercise on hot days.
  • Provide ample shade and water. Any time your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
  • Cool your pet inside and out. Whip up a batch of quick and easy do-it-yourself pupsicles for dogs. And always provide water, whether your pets are inside or out with you.

Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest or mat. Soak these products in cool water, and they’ll stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days. If your dog doesn’t find baths stressful, see if they enjoy a cooling soak.

  • Watch for signs of heatstroke. Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

• How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke. Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck and chest or run cool (not cold) water over them. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian.

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