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How to Keep Your Pets Safe in a Heat Wave

Dogs locked in cars can die from heat exhaustion even in  relatively low temeratures. On an the glass of the windows and windshield can heat the interior to 100 degrees. Credit: MSPCA
Dogs locked in cars can die from heat exhaustion even in relatively low temeratures. On an the glass of the windows and windshield can heat the interior to 100 degrees. Credit: MSPCA

With temperatures expected to be in the 90’s through the end of the week, take a few minutes to see how you can keep your pets safe during a heat wave. According to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website, heat stroke is the number one killer of pets during the summer months.

“We tend to get a spike in heat related issues in April and May, when the heat spikes and dogs haven’t been able to acclimate,” Rob Halpin Director, Public Relations at the MSPCA said. “We average 65 emergencies a day, one or two of which are heat related. We expect this will continue until heat breaks.”

So what can you do to protect your pet?

“Heat stroke is super dangerous, often fatal. Most important, don’t leave them in the car,” Halpin said. “Even in 80-degree weather the inside temperature can soar to in 110 degrees in just 10 minutes. We had an 8-year-old lab come in. The dog was in car for five minutes in the hot sun and we couldn’t save it. It’s almost always an accident.”

The MSPCA recommends that dog owners walk their dogs early in the morning or late at night. During the hot day hours, dogs should be kept indoors near a fan or an air conditioner. Dogs can’t dissipate heat like humans can. They need to pant and to stay hydrated. If they have to be kept outside, make sure that they have a patch of grass to lie on and shade.

Halpin's advice and more can be found on the MSPCA website. Remember, Angell veterinarians offer the following recommendations for keeping pets safe during summertime heat waves:

  • Walk pets in the early morning or late evening when the sun is low and temperatures are cooler.

  • Walk dogs on softer ground such as dirt trails or grass instead of hot blacktop or cement sidewalks, which can burn their paws.

  • Make sure dogs always have plenty of shade in which to rest outside.  The shade provided by trees is ideal, particularly if there is soft grass or dirt underneath, on which they can relax.

  • Always provide plenty of fresh clean water for dogs.

  • Keep pets inside in the coolest parts of the home during the most intense heat waves.

Heat stroke symptoms include: Constant panting, lethargy, vomiting, coupled with a hot day or vigorous exercise. Pet owners should be very concerned if their pet is showing any of these symptoms, and should contact their vet immediately.

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