Pets Still At Risk in Autumn Heat

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Regardless of where you stand (or melt) on how humans affect climate change, the irrefutable fact is that the earth is getting hotter — almost one full degree fahrenheit since 1975.

The official first day of autumn is less eight days away, but higher temperatures are expected to linger, perhaps into pumpkin carving season. As leaves turn crisp and fall away, one might be lured into thinking that its safe to do a quick milk run after picking up fluffy or fido from the vet.

Stop! Don’t pass go, unless you’re going home. Having been angled toward the sun for months (because the earth is tilted on an axis) the northern hemisphere is still baking.

Remember, the temperature inside a parked car can spike in a matter of minutes. An independent study by McLaren, et al (2005) revealed that the heat in a car’s interior can rise 20 degrees above the ambient temperature in 10 minutes, 30 degrees in 20 minutes and more than 40 degrees in one hour. “Cracking” the windows does not decrease the car interior’s temperature.

One need not be a rocket scientist to do the math. Pets left inside parked cars, especially during the day, are highly vulnerable to heat stroke, permanent brain damage and death. In short, don’t do it! At the very least, your car windows may be smashed (in many states, legally) by a Good Samaritan trying to rescue your pet. At the worst . . . well, you don’t want to think about that.

Parked cars are not the only risk to our four-legged friends. Prolonged exposure to the elements without hydration and/or shade can also be lethal. Imagine wearing a fur coat this time of year in Vegas or Atlanta and not having access to fluids. “Dry” and “wet” heat are equally lethal. Pet doors for easy access to AC and strategically-placed water bowls indoors and throughout your property ensure that you fuzz-ball in never far away from cooling off. Keeping your pet’s shorter, summer coif a couple of extra months couldn’t hurt, either.

Exposure can lead to other illnesses and injuries. Dogs noses are susceptible to the ravages of the blazing sun, just like our skin is. Specially-formulated, non-toxic sun-screens for pets is a must for outdoorsy types. Taking a potty break at high noon? Searing street slurry can burn sensitive paws. If you must cross the street, pick up your pal and carry them to safety. Want to get some outdoor cardio with your best friend? Save the hearty hike for dusk.

Learn the signs of heat stroke: heavy panting, a purple tongue, sweaty paws, restlessness, vomiting and dis-coordination are the biggies. Whether you witness the above in your own or someone else’s pet, be prepared to act. Take the pet to an air-conditioned place, apply cool compresses to the chest, belly and groin area and call a vet immediately.

Seasonal heat is slow to fade. Caring for our fur-family should never fade.