As the temperature starts to climb in Southern California again this week, Los Angeles Animal Services reminds us that when it is hot for people, it is even hotter for our four-legged friends. Dogs and cats do not sweat through their skin. They cool themselves by panting or rapid breathing, which means dogs and cats must work extra hard to stay cool.
Too much heat can be extremely dangerous or even fatal for companion animals. Here are some pet safety tips from LA Animal Services on how to keep your furry loved ones healthy and comfortable:
Never leave your pet alone inside a vehicle
If your pet cannot go inside at every stop with you, they are safer at home on hot days. Car interiors heat very quickly, even with the windows open. If it is 90 degrees out, temperatures can top 160 degrees faster than you can walk around the block. In fact, it’s against the law to leave an animal in a vehicle if doing so endangers the health or well-being of the animal.
Give your pet extra water
Always make sure that your dog or cat has plenty of fresh water to drink. A bucket that holds a gallon or more of water will stay cool longer than water in a shallow pan. Some dogs consider ice cubes a treat, and you can add a few to the water bowl.
Care for your pet’s coat
Longer coated dogs and cats who are brushed regularly have natural insulation from the heat. However, if the coat has gotten matted, a clip will make your buddy much more comfortable. Newly clipped and lighter coated pets, especially white ones, are at higher risk for skin cancer and they are more susceptible to sunburn.
Don’t leave your pet outdoors for a long time
If your dog has to be left outdoors for awhile, make sure they have plenty of access to shade such as trees, a covered patio or cool spot under the porch. Apply a pet specific or hypoallergenic sunscreen on sensitive areas like the nose, tips of ears and belly especially if they have light or thin fur.
Avoid hot ground surfaces
While walking your dog outdoors, play particular attention to the pavement, sidewalks or sand. Check the temperature with your hand, if it’s too hot to touch then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Dogs can suffer sever burns on the pads of their feet from walking on hot pavement.
Know the signs of overheating
If your dog or cat begins very rapid, noisy breathing, has trouble swallowing and looks very distressed, they could be having a heatstroke. Get the animal out of the heat. Apply cold, wet towels to the back of the head. Place cold packs wrapped in towels or plain wet towels between the back legs and on the belly. Cool off your pet and take them to the veterinarian immediately.
Remember, companion animals want to be with you. They will be safer and cooler inside with you, where they can spend their time doing what they do best: being your best friend.