It seems to be the topic of every conversation this summer… the record-breaking heat and lack of rain in western Washington. When 90 degrees becomes the norm and raindrops are nowhere to be found in the long-range weather forecast, it’s time to start thinking about heat safety, especially for our pets who depend on us.
So North Bend resident and owner of Miss Lola’s Academy for Wayward Dogs, Melissa Grant, walks us through some important hot and summer weather tips (including fireworks noise) for your four-legged family members. Stay cool Snoqualmie Valley.
Cars Can Quickly Become an Oven
The first and foremost danger to dogs in hot weather is the car. Don’t let your dog fall victim to the “I’ll only be a few minutes” syndrome. I don’t care how much your dog loves the car, or how quick you think your trip will be, just say no to dogs in cars.
You can park in shade and roll the windows down, it still isn’t safe. Cars, especially dark cars, can climb 10 to 15 degrees in temperature in only ten minutes – and nearly 40 degrees in a half hour. Try putting on a winter coat and park your car in the shade on a hot day with the windows cracked. If it’s hard for you to tolerate, it will be hard for them to tolerate – even more so because you can sweat, a dog cannot.
A rise in body temperature of 5 or 6 degrees can kill a dog. The absolute highest, allowable temperature for my dog to be in the car is 65 – and that’s with a cooling pad and water. Be a good dog friend and leave your buddy at home.
Pooch Heat Stroke / Exhaustion
Next comes heat stroke and exhaustion. When the days get really hot its best to exercise your dog in the early morning or near dusk when the temperatures are cooler. Always carry water and give them a break if they start panting furiously. Watch the concrete temperature too. Dogs cool themselves through panting and through the pads on their feet. Make sure they have lots of clean water and shade if they spend a lot of time outdoors.
Some dogs love to cool off by swimming. Be careful of swimming pools because the chemicals used to treat the water can harm their skin or eyes. Be careful of currents in rivers and undertow in the ocean. Also make sure your dog doesn’t drink any standing water in lakes or ponds, as they can contain parasites that can make your dog very sick.
Protection from Pesky Bugs
Summer is also a prime time for ticks and mosquitos. Ask your vet about how best to protect your pets against these nasty creatures. If you go anywhere with long grass or lots of foliage, carefully check your dog afterwards for any sign of ticks. A vet can help you remove any ticks if you are too squeamish to do it yourself.
Fireworks and Food
Lastly, summer can be a fun celebratory time, but unfortunately many dogs and cats are lost to fear during firework season. Be sure your pet has a nice quiet zone to go to when things get noisy outside. Be sure the info on Fido’s microchip is up to date, as well as the tag on his collar.
Barbecues are fun, but a dog can get too much rich food or run off if not being properly supervised. Take care and common sense to watch your animal when the fun starts and summer will be as much for him as it is for you.