With the arrival of summer weather, the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) is urging pet owners to take the necessary precautions to protect their pets from serious heat-related dangers that can result in heatstroke, or worse.
Dogs are great companions and, as we all know, love riding in the car. But in warm weather, it's most often safer to leave them at home. Even on a relatively mild 85-degree day, parked in the shade with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car could reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. When the outside air is over 100, the inside of a car can reach 120 or more.
In warm weather, the overheated air in a parked car interferes with a pet's normal cooling process because, unlike humans, dogs and cats do not perspire to cool their bodies down - they pant. When the air they breathe is overheated, the evaporation that usually occurs during panting is insufficient to allow proper cooling. A pet, like a child, can only withstand a higher body temperature for a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage - or even death.
Here are some additional warm weather pet safety tips from the Michigan Humane Society:
- MHS strongly recommends that pets live indoors with the rest of the family, year-round. In the summer, this will also help prevent heat-related illness and reduce exposure to mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and internal parasites.
- Bring animals inside during hot or humid weather. Pets should not be left outside in very warm, humid conditions for extended periods, even in the shade.
- Ensure that pets have access to plenty of fresh, cool water at all times indoors and out. Hydration is critical to help your pet regulate his body temperature.
- Avoid chaining or tethering a dog outside. He may get twisted and become unable to reach shade or water, or his water dish may get knocked over.
- In homes without air conditioning, use fans to keep air circulating or keep your pet in a cooler area of the house, such as the basement, during the hottest part of the day.
- Avoid vigorously exercising pets during the heat of the day. Instead, take walks in the early morning or evening hours. Avoid hot concrete or asphalt surfaces as they may cause damage or discomfort to the animal's paw pads.
- Keep in mind that old, young and short-nosed animals such as bulldogs, pugs and Himalayan or Persian cats are especially susceptible to heatstroke. However, it is a concern for all pets during hot weather.
- If you open windows in your home, be sure the screens are secure to prevent cats or other pets from falling out.
- Never leave pets unattended around swimming pools, to help prevent accidents.
If your pet is overcome by heat, you can give immediate first aid by immersing him in cool water. If you are unable to immerse him, lay him on cool, shaded grass, pour cold water over him and call your pet's veterinarian immediately.
For more information about pet health and safety, visit www.michiganhumane.org.