6 ways to protect your pets from dangerous conditionsJun 29, 2021 05:36AM ● By Anna Stout
Extreme heat advisory for pets
With searing temperatures bearing down on Western Colorado, I’m issuing an extreme heat advisory for our pets.
Remember, your pet doesn’t have the ability to regulate body temperature effectively to withstand extreme heat. They don’t have the same cool-down mechanisms humans have (like sweating). They rely primarily on panting (and vasodilation to a lesser extent), which isn’t as effective and doesn’t work as quickly as a good sweat. While there are many products to aid in keeping your pet cool, like cooling beds and water fountains, the safest thing is to keep them indoors.
Here are some other things to keep in mind to protect your pets from these dangerous conditions:
1. Don’t leave pets in your car.
Let’s get this obvious warning out of the way. Don’t leave your pets in a car, even with the windows cracked, even in the shade, and even if it’s “just for a few minutes.” Unless you can safely leave the air conditioner blasting, the risk of heatstroke—even death—is extremely high. Within just two minutes on an 80-degree morning, a car can heat up over 14 degrees and can quickly reach fatal temperatures.
2. Avoid leaving your pet outdoors during the hottest hours of the day.
There is no hard-and-fast rule for what temperature is too hot for your pet, but I’d agree that 90 degrees is the upper limit for your pet to be outside for prolonged periods. Since we’re easily hitting that by mid-morning, pets should have an indoor option to escape the heat. (Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that plastic igloo or wooden doghouse will do the trick—it can get hotter inside those than outside if it is not properly vented and insulated.)
3. Keep them out of the sun.
If your pet must stay outside during the day, ensure there is adequate shade. Think about how the sun moves across the sky. Even when it is at its peak, make sure your pet has shady places to escape the sun’s rays.
4. Make sure there's abundant water.
And, ensure that it isn’t in direct sunlight where it will heat up and scald your pet’s mouth. Consider filling a kiddie pool with water each morning to help cool your dog off and provide drinking water all day.
5. Time your walks later in the evening.
If you and your pet have a walking routine, beware of hot pavement that can damage the pads of their feet. Try placing your hand on the pavement to see if you can comfortably hold it there for a few seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them, too. Until the sun sets, you both have an excuse to skip the exercise and go through a drive-thru for ice cream instead.
6. Purchase pet-friendly sunscreen.
Many of us visit the groomer to get our pets a cooling haircut. (My pets are especially fond of “the lion” and “the naked mole rat” because they have no self-awareness.) While this may seem helpful, it can also be dangerous if the new fur-style exposes their skin to sunburn.
If your pet spends any length of time outside during the day with short fur or exposed skin (white short-haired dogs often have susceptible skin right around their nose, for example), sunscreen is essential. Make sure to purchase sunscreen that is safe for pets, as ingredients like zinc oxide, which are found in human sunscreen can be toxic if your pet licks himself (and he inevitably will).
For more advice about how to keep your pet safe this summer and how to exercise your pet without going out into this miserable heat, reach out to the pet experts at Roice-Hurst Humane Society. Call the Grand Junction shelter at 970-434-7337, or our new location in Delta at 970-874-1078.