dave-mittlemanWe’ve had a few extremely hot days this summer, which means a greater risk of heat stroke and even death, particularly for the very young or the elderly.  However, you might not realize that the heat is as equally as dangerous to your pets.  In fact, Dr. Shirene Cece of Warren, a longtime veteran at the Michigan Humane Center, has already had to revive two dogs this summer that were near death from heat stroke.  Both dogs were left outside for too long without access to water.  To make sure your pet isn’t the next victim of the scorching hot summer season, Dr. Cece advises that you always provide your pets with plenty of cool, fresh water.  Here are some additional tips to keep your pets safe during the hot season:

  • Visit the vet: as the weather heats up, the bugs multiply.  Your pets are exposed to fleas, ticks, worms and other parasites that carry harmful diseases.  Visit your veterinarian to make sure your four-legged friend is up-to-date with their shots.
  • Exercise your pets the right way: think about it, you wouldn’t walk around barefoot on scorching hot pavement.  Don’t make your dog suffer either by walking him in the middle of the day when the sidewalk is at its hottest.  Instead, walk or run with your pet during the coolest time of the day, morning or night.
  • Bring them inside: even if there is shade available it isn’t enough to keep your pet from heat stroke, particularly on the really hot days.  Bring your pet inside to cool off after spending short amounts of time outside to use the bathroom.  If you don’t have air conditioning in your home make sure a fan is circulating air or take your pets to the basement to cool off.
  • Never leave your pet in the car: the Humane Society says that on an 85-degree day, your car can get as hot as 120 degrees in the shade with the windows cracked.  Since a dog can’t sweat to cool off, a few minutes in an overheated car can cause irreparable brain damage or even death to your pet.
  • Be on the lookout: if you see an animal in distress in a parked car, alert the store if it’s in a parking lot, or call animal control or the police.
  • Drive safely: it might seem funny to have your dog hang is head out the window, but flying debris can seriously hurt your pet.  If a small flying piece of debris has the potential to crack your windshield, it could also hurt your dog.  Similarly, the front seat airbags could kill your dog in an accident.  Make sure to secure your dog in a crate in the backseat and keep the windows closed. 
  • Be careful at the dog park: while dog parks are a good place to exercise and socialize your dogs, they can also be dangerous.  Use a park that has a registration system that makes owners prove their pet has received rabies and distemper shots; use a leash when coming or going; do not bring a child to the park; and keep an out for aggressive dogs.  If your dog is attacked, report the offender so that his or her license is revoked so that the dog cannot return to the park.  
  • Watch the pool: dogs might take naturally to water, but you should always keep an eye on them while they swim.  Your dog might not be able to get himself out of the water and could become exhausted and drown.
  • Check bites: if your dog is stung by a bee or other insect, apply a cool compress.  If the area swells, take your pet to the veterinarian: dogs can be allergic to bee stings just like humans.
  • Know the signs of heatstroke: classic signs include heavy panting, wheezing, and body weakness.  If your pet exhibits any of these signs, lay it in the shade, pour cool water over it and call your veterinarian.