Keeping pets safe as hot temps continue

REGION — While the end of summer is more than a month away, most people may have become more acclimated to the warm temperatures. However, it is not the same for animals. Dog owners are being asked to stay diligent in keeping their pets safe.

“Because we are so connected to our pets, it is easy to forget that they are not just like us and are actually more sensitive to summertime dangers than we are,” said Jessica Gercke, Helen Woodward Animal Center spokeswoman.

For Kim Boyle, DVM, DACVECC, whose specialty is in veterinary emergency and critical care at California Veterinary Specialists in Carlsbad, a few summertime points bear repeating.    

“From a veterinary standpoint, no dog should be left in a parked vehicle — even under a shady tree, with the windows cracked and with available water,” Boyle said. “(On) what might seem like a relatively cool day, the temperatures inside of a car can become much higher so we would absolutely advise against it.”

The state of California also has penal code 597.7 which helps enforce this.

Gercke shared that even at 70 degrees on a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car can reach 104 degrees. After an hour, it climbs to 113 degrees.

Boyle said what she often sees at the hospital are cases of when a pet owner takes their dog on a walk, jog or hike on a sunny day. Despite the owner’s best intentions, even if their dog is physically fit, taking them on an outing like this in warm temperatures can be dangerous.

“If it’s a hot day, and dogs are pushed a little bit beyond what they normally do, they can get into significant trouble,” she said. “Those are the ones that we see coming in critical condition.”

An example she shared was a dog going on a six-mile trail hike when it’s 80 degrees outside.

Gercke agreed and added that pet owners should also consider the terrain of their hike. 

“If there are rocky areas or hot asphalt trails, dogs’ feet can get cut or burned from contact with rough surfaces,” Gercke said. “Dogs with more sensitive paws or ones that are not used to rugged outdoor terrain are at a greater risk.”

Brachycephalic dog breeds, otherwise known as flat-faced, such as bulldogs and pugs may also be more susceptible to overheating when going out for walks and jogs.

Boyle wants people to know that when she treats a dog who was either on a walk, jog or hike for a heat stroke, the dog owners share that their animals gave them a sign. Boyle wants dog owners to be aware of these things.

“We need to be tuned into our animals’ cues and to pick up on that,” Boyle said. “It’s that first hint that your pet is telling you, ‘Hey, I’m done,’” Boyle said. “You have to take that seriously.”

These signs can consist of a dog’s reluctance to keep going, stopping, sitting or trailing behind their owner.

On a warm day, take the necessary precautions such as going out early in the morning or the evening, finding shade, having fresh water on hand and knowing the location of the nearest veterinarian hospital.

“Also remember if there is a heat advisory for people, then that crosses over to our pets as well,” Boyle said.   

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