Every year, Sacramento County residents do their level best to keep cool during the seasonably hot valley temperatures mid-year. Failing to keep cool in extreme temperatures can cause adverse health effects for residents—for both people and animals.
Unlike humans, cats and dogs cannot sweat to keep cool; they cool their bodies off through panting and the pads of their feet.
“Heat can be deadly for pets,” said Director Dave Dickinson, Animal Care and Regulation. “Pet owners must be vigilant about keeping their animals cool during hot weather; that includes never leaving animals in parked cars and helping them to avoid extreme heat.”
Here are some tips for keeping your pet safe from the heat:
- Never leave your dog in a parked car: Even cracking a window won’t protect your pets. It is against the law in California and could be punishable by a fine or imprisonment. A car can reach 120 degrees in just minutes; even if the windows are slightly open the car can still reach 102 degrees. A dog's normal temperature is 101.5 degrees; at 120 degrees your pet can suffer from heat exhaustion and die and at 107 degrees brain damage occurs.
- Avoid extreme heat: When temperatures get above the 90s, take your pet inside. For outdoor pets, be sure to provide them with plenty of fresh, cold water in a tip-proof water dish and shade for them to cool down.
- Don’t exercise with your pets when it is too hot: Older and certain long-haired dogs can be particularly susceptible to heat, and hot asphalt can burn their paws. Exercise in the early morning or cool evenings and make sure both of you have plenty of water.
- Use sunscreen: Pets get sunburned just like people, and if your pet has light skin, they can be particularly susceptible to a painful burn, and even skin cancer. Use sunscreen on sensitive areas, such as ears or nose to make sure your pets are protected.
- Don’t take your pets to crowded summer events: The heat, noise, and crowds can be overwhelming to your pet. July 4 fireworks are especially stressful for pets, and it is best to leave them at home in a quiet, cool and secure environment. Take extra precaution to make sure your pet has a registered microchip in addition to wearing I.D. tags in case they become lost.
- Secure your dog during transport: Make sure your dog is secured safely in your vehicle. Cross-tethering your dog with a rope or containing them via kennel in the bed of your truck will help prevent the dog from falling or jumping from the vehicle. Also, please note that truck beds can get hot when exposed to the sun and that can severely burn dog foot pads. Transporting animals on a public highway or public roadway without properly securing them could be punishable by a fine.
- Be your pet’s lifeguard: While swimming can help pets get exercise without overheating, always supervise pets when swimming either in a pool or in area waterways. Dogs can get tired swimming, particularly in rivers where they have to fight against currents. To avoid drowning, make sure they wear life jackets and keep them out of the water when flows are high.
If pets have been exposed to high temperatures…
Be alert for signs of heat stress including heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.
Immediately move your pet to the shade to lower their temperature. Apply cool (not cold) water to the pet, apply ice packs and cool towels to your pet’s head, neck and chest.
Take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. It could save its life.