By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances
There has been no way to avoid the tragic news reports of children being left in hot cars this summer. In some instances, concerned passersby have noticed kids in crisis before it was too late. Sadly, in other instances, children have suffered in unspeakable ways and have lost their lives. Hopefully these incidents will be few and far between, but as lives get busier and priorities get skewed, I fear we will hear about even more such cases.
Sadly, every summer for years we have heard about similar situations involving family pets. Far too often pet owners choose to take their pets along when running “quick” errands. Sadly, it takes only moments for the inside of a car, even one with the windows cracked, to turn into an oven of sorts. Temperatures rise to life-threatening levels very, very quickly. Since dogs don’t perspire, they rely on panting to help regulate their body temperature. The hot air in the confines of a car affords no relief and heat-related injury or death can occur almost immediately.
We hear it over and over again: “but, Jake loves to ride in the car! I’ll just run into the store for a minute.” Pet owners think they’re giving their dogs a treat by taking them along for that ride in the car. But, at best they are subjecting their best friends to unnecessary risk. And, at worst, they are driving them to a painful, untimely death.
The best rule of thumb here is to leave your pet at home! Even if your errands are quick, unless you can take Fido or FiFi inside with you, they are better off at home. Be strong and avoid those big, brown eyes staring pitifully at you as you collect your keys!
There are lots of other things for pet owners to consider as temperatures rise. On the Paw Print blog in recent months, we have posted numerous articles about the importance of proper hydration for our pets. An ample supply of fresh, cool water is an absolute must to keep our pets healthy, safe and comfortable during warm weather months. Whether you use PetSafe® Drinkwell® fountains or still water bowls, make sure that water containers are kept clean and filled.
We always encourage exercise for pets AND pet owners! But, in the summer time it may be necessary to adjust schedules or exercise routines. If you like to walk or run with your dogs, do so early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are less likely to hit extreme highs. Not only can you and your pets overheat, but hot pavement can cause severe burns on the pads of a dogs paws.
If your dog likes to swim, make sure to take him to water that is clean and free of hazards. And be sure to check his ears after he’s taken a dip. Water in the ears can lead to painful infections. Monitor your dog while he’s in the water to make sure he doesn’t over exert himself. Dogs are usually good swimmers, but sometimes they don’t quite know their limits!
Our pets are good for us. We’ve all heard studies quoted telling us that contact with pets makes us happy, lowers our blood pressure, makes us exercise more and keeps us generally healthy—both mentally and physically. So, go out and enjoy the summer with your pets…just remember they count on us to make wise decisions and take care. It’s our job to Protect.Teach.Love.™