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Be Cool: Protect your pet from heat
September 19, 2015
Nearly 2,000 people each year end up in Arizona emergency rooms for heat-related illness. While pets can handle a lot of hardships better than humans, heat isn't one of them. Animals are just as susceptible to high temperatures as humans are. There are few important steps you can take to keep your pets cool – and healthy – in the heat
Never Leave Your Pet in the Car
It's hotter inside a parked car than it is standing in full sun on the asphalt. The interior temperature of vehicles parked in outside temperatures ranging from 72 to 96°F rise steadily over time, and cracking the windows doesn't help.
Elapsed time Degrees hotter inside vehicle than outside
10 minutes 19°F
20 minutes 29°F
30 minutes 34°F
60 minutes 43°F
1 to 2 hours 45-50°F
That means if it's 95° outside, and you run into the store for 10 minutes, your pet will experience a 114° temperature in the car. Add a few minutes to buy that lotto ticket and it'll be 125°F in the car when you get back. Plus, it's illegal. Arizona Revised Statute 13-2910 makes it a criminal offense for anyone who "intentionally, knowingly or recklessly leaves an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle and physical injury to or death of the animal is likely to result." The statute also allows "a peace officer, animal control enforcement agent or animal control enforcement deputy [to] use reasonable force to open a vehicle to rescue an animal if the animal is left in the vehicle…" Police officers and animal control officers would enjoy immunity under the law from any damage they cause to the vehicle while affecting the rescue.
Cool at Home
Dogs and cats should always live indoors with the family, but it's especially important in the heat. Animals on tie-outs are at risk during summer heat, because they restrict a dog's access to shade, shelter, water and food. Whenever your pet must be outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun (trees and tarps are best because the allow breezes to pass through – dog houses can actually be hotter on the inside) and plenty of fresh, cold water. Even indoors, make sure your pets have unlimited access to water. Restrict exercise to the morning and evening when it's cooler. Temperatures at two and three feet above the ground can be 20 degrees hotter than at six feet, and the asphalt can burn a dog's pads. Some dogs enjoy a wading pool as much as children do.
Know the Signs of Heatstroke
lack of coordination
deep red or purple tongue
Although they are no less susceptible to heat stress than people, animals do not show symptoms as soon as people do. Once your pet is showing signs of heatstroke, you already have an emergency. If your pet becomes overheated move your pet into an air-conditioned area, apply ice packs or damp towels to the head, neck, and chest (but not to other parts) of the animal. Offer small amounts of water or ice cubes to lick. Get your pet to the vet (in an air-conditioned vehicle) as soon as possible. Your vet can use IV fluids to cool your pet down faster than you can do at home.