HEATSTROKE CAN KILL, AND FAST. Most pet owners realize that keeping pets in hot cars can kill them…but not many realize just how quickly the effects of heatstroke can set in for a dog or cat. Heatstroke is a condition animals begin to suffer gradually, but it accelerates quickly; it’s easy for early signs of heatstroke to go unrecognized, and for the pet to be in an emergency situation within mere minutes.
On warm days, a vehicle acts like an oven. It holds the heat inside, and that heat becomes very intense even on days that don’t seem too warm. On an 85-degree day, for example, even with the windows open, the temperature inside a car can climb to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, and to 120 degrees in 30 minutes. With the humidity we experience here in Buffalo, it may go even higher. Because a dog’s normal body temperature is 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, he can withstand a body temperature of 107-108 degrees for only a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage…or death.
The typical signs of heatstroke are:
– High body temperature
– Red mouth/eye membranes
– Rapid, irregular heart rate
– Weakness, looking dazed
If a pet begins exhibiting any of these signs, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Also, use caution during warm weather months when leaving animals outside in yards or on porches. Never leave them outside extended periods of time. Ensure appropriate shade and water are always available. Keep close supervision on your pet when outdoors on hot, humid, sunny summer days.
ADMINISTER FLEA PREVENTION PRODUCTS CORRECTLY! Early last June, the SPCA received two cats on death’s door after cheap, incorrect flea products were applied. The SPCA has already received several phone calls this season from people who misapplied flea products to their pets. DO NOT APPLY PRODUCTS MEANT FOR DOGS ON CATS, AND DO NOT APPLY CAT FLEA PRODUCTS TO DOGS, AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS CONCERNING THE VOLUME AND MANNER OF APPLICATION! Read the directions carefully PRIOR to application, not during application. The application of improper flea products, low-quality flea products, or products applied incorrectly, can cause internal damage or death to your pet. Always consult a veterinarian before purchasing and applying flea products.
KEEP PETS HOME DURING OUTDOOR FESTIVALS. Arts festivals, food festivals, summer fireworks displays, and other crowded outdoor events are no places for dogs. Extremely hot weather, paired with immense crowds of people and strange noises and scents, heightens the stress level for many animals; the repetitive, exploding sound of fireworks is enough to make even the calmest animal frantic and sometimes aggressive. Your pet’s body is closer to the asphalt and can heat up much more quickly. The hot pavement can also burn unprotected, sensitive paw pads.
DON’T FORCE EXERCISE, primarily after a meal or in hot, humid weather. Instead, exercise pets in the cool of the early morning or evening. Be extra-sensitive to older and overweight animals, or those prone to heart or respiratory problems. Bring an ample supply of water along on the walk.
BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU WALK! Avoid walking your dog in areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals, or have puddles or spots of auto coolant. The sweet taste of poisonous liquids attracts animals and can sicken or kill them if ingested. Clean any spills immediately or consider using animal-friendly products to help minimize risks.
WATCH WHAT THEY EAT & DRINK! In July of 2012, two family dogs died after eating poisonous mushrooms (amanita) growing right in the backyard. Check yards and any areas pets frequent. If something looks suspicious, don’t take a chance….GET RID OF IT. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection spread through the urine of contaminated animals. The bacteria can get into water (puddles, ponds, pools, etc.) or soil and survive there for months. Humans AND animals can be infected. Use caution when letting your pet drink, walk through, or swim in water that may have been exposed to infected animals (rodents, wildlife, infected domestic animals, and others).
KEEP YOUR PET WELL-GROOMED AND CLEAN to combat summer skin problems. If your dog’s coat is appropriate, cutting his hair to a one-inch length will help prevent overheating and will also allow you to watch for fleas and ticks. Don’t shave down to the skin, though; your pet can get sunburned. A cat should be brushed frequently to keep a tangle-free coat. Long-haired cats will be more comfortable with a stylish, summer clip.
KEEPS PETS SAFE WHILE OUTSIDE. Cats should be kept indoors at all times of the year and never allowed to roam loose, unprotected and unsupervised. If dogs are allowed outside for an extended period of time, ensure there is proper shade and fresh water available at all times. During the hottest and most humid parts of the day, bring dogs in the house. Keep identification on all animals at all times. And remember…pets can get sunburned too. Speak with your veterinarian about applying sunblock to your pet’s sun-sensitive areas, such as nose and ears.
USE CAUTION WHEN MAKING SUMMER PURCHASES! When purchasing lawn and garden products, always read the labels for ingredients toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals. Fertilizers, weed killers, herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals can be fatal to your pets. “Weed out” the toxic products from your garage, and learn more about non-toxic, pet-friendly seasonal items. Snail, slug, and rat/mouse baits, and ant/roach baits and traps are also hazardous. Metaldehyde, one of the poisonous ingredients in many baits, is often very appealing to pets, and metaldehyde poisoning can cause increased heart rate, breathing complications, seizures, liver complications, and death. If insect and nuisance animal control items must be purchased, keep them in locations impossible for pets to reach.
KEEP CORN COBS AWAY FROM DOGS! In August of 2013, SPCA veterinarians removed corn cobs from the intestines of not one but TWO dogs! Both survived, but without veterinary treatment the results could have been fatal.
DO NOT USE HUMAN INSECT REPELLENTS ON PETS! These items are toxic when ingested at high doses, and dogs and cats may lick it off and ingest it, potentially resulting in a toxicity. Read more about what you can use here.
BUNNIES NEED TO KEEP COOL TOO! Pet rabbits who live indoors with no air conditioning can benefit from an easy cooling technique. Rabbit owners can freeze a filled water bottle. Once the water bottle is frozen, it can be wrapped in a cloth and placed on the rabbit’s cage floor. If the rabbit becomes too warm, she’ll instinctively know to lie next to the bottle. Fans can also be pointed in the general direction of a rabbit cage, and rabbits will raise their ears (their natural cooling system) to catch the breeze and cool off. On hot days, pet owners with rabbits living in outdoor pens will want to ensure their pets are cool enough in outdoor locations; if not, rabbits and pens should come indoors.