Hot Weather Safety Tips for Dogs and Cats, Tucson
May is too soon to be triple digits in Tucson; the weather gods are simply not cooperating. What does that mean for your dogs and cats? As their protectors you must be extra diligent in keeping them cool and safe.
Hot cars: Never, leave your pet in a hot car. Common sense, right? It only takes minutes for a pet to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car. Most people don’t realize how hot parked cars can get. On a 78-degree day, for instance, temperatures in a car can reach 90 degrees in the shade and top 160 degrees if parked directly in the sun! If you’re driving around with your dog or cat in the car, bring water and a water dish and take your pet with you when you leave the car.
Talk to the paws: When the hot sun cooks, surfaces like asphalt or metal can get really hot. Keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. Walk your dogs in the early morning or late evening. You can test the asphalt by putting your own ugly bare feet on it. If it’s too hot for you, ditto for the dog.
Also, it’s not a good idea to drive around with your dog in the bed of a truck ever but especially when hot metal can burn paws quickly (and dogs can fall out or be injured or killed in an accident).
Hydration and shade: Keep your furry friend cool and comfortable when you’re out and about. Bring water and a water bowl. If your pet is an outside dog, provide shade (preferably covered and protected from the elements) and lots of water that cannot be knocked over.
Haircuts: If you have a pet with a thick coat, consider a haircut but leave some layers of hair for sunburn protection. Never get your pet shaved. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.
Overheating: Know the symptoms which include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.
Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
Windows: Open windows without screens pose a real danger to pets, who often fall out and this being Tucson, burglars can come in. Keep all windows or doors without screens in your home closed and preferably locked for theft, and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.
Pool: Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals. If your pet is in the pool, he or she needs pet-friendly sunscreen and a visor or covering.
Insecticide: Use a pet-friendly product and beware of poison products used in the garden. These products may not be harmful to people but could be harmful to dogs.
Most of these tips are common sense. Tucson summers are grueling enough for people so your pets depend on you to keep them safe and comfortable. If you have more safety tips, please post them in the comments.