If Our Pets Could Talk – August 2023

With the start of summer comes some potential health hazards for our pets, that we need to keep in mind. The following are a few summer pet safety tips: 

Always make sure your pet has cool, clean water available at all times. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid heat injuries in the summer months. Dogs, even cats, drink more on hot days, and water warms up quickly, so make sure to change your pet’s water often.                                                         

 Never leave your pet in a car!  Even parking in the shade and leaving the windows open is not an option.  While you are “just running a quick errand”, in a hot car your pet’s temperature can rise rapidly and can overheat in a very short period of time. It doesn’t have to be super-hot outside for your car to heat up. The inside of a vehicle parked in 70-degree weather can reach 100F / 37.7C  in just 20 minutes. In 20 minutes on a 90-degree day, the same car can get up to 130F / 54.4C degrees inside. A car parked in the sun, even with windows open the temperature can quickly raise to 160 F/71.1C. It only takes minutes to reach dangerous levels leading to heatstroke and even death. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), studies have shown that cracking a window changes these figures very little. A parked car with the windows cracked heats up at almost the exact same rate as a car with the windows rolled up, putting pets in serious danger.

Keep your dog’s paws cool at all times. Since the ground heats up quickly during the Summer time, your dog’s body heat can rapidly rise, and sensitive paw pads can get burned. Having your dog run beside you while you ride your bicycle is really a danger to your dog in the summer heat. Try not to walk your dog during the hottest part of the day: 11A–3PM. If you walk your dog and you should carry a bottle of water for yourself and your dog. Walk early in the morning or late afternoon / night when it’s cooler, and always take frequent breaks in shady spots and keep the walks short.  On an 87F / 30.5C degree day, asphalt temperatures can reach 140 degrees, hot enough to cause burns, permanent damage and scarring after just one minute of contact. Rapid burns and blistering can occur at 150 degrees. Hot sidewalks, pavement and parking lots can not only burn paws; they also reflect heat onto dogs’ bodies, increasing their risk of deadly heatstroke. 

Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes.

Older dogs, those with medical conditions, younger dogs, and long haired dogs are at increased risk due to hot weather hazards.

Some signs of heat stress are: heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue. IF any of these are present immediately move your dog into the shade. If possible, apply a cool wet towel to your pet’s head, neck and chest. Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water. If your dog  does not improve, and especially if he is confused or acts disoriented it is critical to take your pet to your Vet. immediately.

Please think about your dog’s safety- he will be more comfortable and safer at home when it is hot outside, rather than go with you when you run your errands, or if you are going to a crowded hot place like the tianguis, and be mindful of the safe time of  day you should walk your dog. Think of it this way,  if you are not willing to sit in a hot car for a period of time or walk on hot pavement barefooted, WHY would you make your dog do this? 

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Jackie Kellum

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