The Imperial Valley heat has already begun to settle in this year, and soon temperatures will begin to climb higher and higher. Scorching temperatures can be dangerous not only for people, but it is important to remember just how dangerous the heat can be for our pets.
Some people think animals are more resilient than people and that they can withstand extreme conditions much better than we can. Although that is true for some animals such as those that are native to desert and arctic regions, domesticated pets are not meant to tolerate such extreme conditions.
Although it is recommended that all pets be kept indoors, we understand that is not possible for every household. During the summer months, the team at the Humane Society of Imperial County would like everyone to please always keep pets that must remain outdoors in constant mind.
Here are seven easy and economical steps everyone can follow to ensure that outdoor pets stay safe and beat the heat!
1. Please remember that outdoor pets must have proper and plenty of shading and/or housing from the sun and other elements at all times.
2. Outdoor pets must always have a supply of fresh food and water all throughout the day, and must be kept out of the sun, as well.
3. Make sure to check their water every few hours throughout the day and maybe put in a few handfuls of ice to make sure that their drinking water is kept cool.
4. Placing a shallow kiddy pool with some water in it in the shade will also help to ensure that outdoor pets can stay cool and comfortable in the heat.
5. Another quick tip in keeping pets cool and comfortable is to place a fan in the shade and next to their bed, or even placing a window AC unit on a dog house.
6. If you and your family are going to be away from home for an extended period of time, please consider boarding your pet with a pet daycare center, pet sitter or a local veterinarian. Another option would be to make sure that someone who is reliable can go to your home to check on your pets every couple of hours throughout the day.
7. Always keep in mind to never leave pets in cars. Whether the car is on with the AC running or the engine is off and the windows are cracked, leaving an animal in a car is never a good idea. So much can go wrong in a short amount of time in this particular situation. If you need to make a quick stop and you have your pet with you, please make sure to take it home first. One quick stop is not worth losing your best friend.
Pets can succumb to heat stroke or overheating much easier than we may realize. There are certain types of pets that are more susceptible to heat stroke than others. These include younger and older
pets, pets that are in bad health, brachycephalic dog breeds (short-nosed dogs such as pugs, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Pekingese, shih tzus, boxers, Boston terriers, and some mastiff breeds), longhaired or thick-coated dogs (such as huskies, chows, poodles, collies, retrievers, sheepdogs, shepherds, terriers, etc.), house cats, any pets that are not typically used to be outside for an extended amount of time, and especially rabbits.
Some common signs of heat stroke or overheating in animals are heavy panting, dark or bright red gums, dehydration, excessive drooling, elevated body temperature (103 degrees or higher), vomiting, soft-bloody or even black-tar like stool, changes in mental state, seizures, muscle trembling, wobbly or uncoordinated walking, and unconsciousness.
If you see that your own pet or someone else’s pet may be suffering from heat stroke or is overheated, please take action right away! Some quick and easy things you can do to help save the animal’s life are getting the animal out of the heat and into the shade, offer the animal some cool water (not ice water), and place cool-wet cloths on paws and around the head of the animal. Immediately after that, please call a local family veterinarian and do exactly as instructed.
If a pet is locked in a car and is clearly in distress, please dial 911 right away and give them a license plate number and description of the vehicle. Make sure to also go into the place of business and notify management so that they can make an announcement. If you have a neighbor or know of someone who has a pet that is being kept in unsafe conditions, please make sure to immediately contact local animal control or police so that an officer may assess the situation and respond accordingly.
All animals deserve to be kept in a safe environment that they enjoy being in. As a community it is our responsibility to make sure that we give that to them. Regardless if they are a cat, a dog, a rat, a bird, a cow, a goat, a pig, a horse, a rabbit, a guinea pig, a lizard or what have you, they all deserve to live a long life full of comfort and happiness.
Desert Veterinary Group
El Centro Animal Clinic
Devon Apodaca is executive director of the Humane Society of Imperial County.