Sunscreen. Check. Hat. Check. Sunglasses. Check. Forgetting anything?
Pets are easy to overlook when it comes to protection from the sun. But your animals can enjoy the season, too – with a few precautions.
Don’t leave your pet inside a parked car
The temperature inside a parked car at this time of year can quickly climb well above 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – usually just 10 minutes – before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.
“Every year, we receive hundreds of complaints about dogs left in hot cars because many people still don’t grasp the danger of this situation,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. “Even if you park in the shade and it seems cool outside when you leave, the sun can change direction and heat up a car’s interior in no time.”
Many people assume they will be just a few minutes at a bank or convenience store, only to be delayed and return too late to save their pet.
If you see a dog languishing in a hot car, call the municipal animal control authorities in your area or local police. Before the authorities arrive, members of the public can help prevent a tragedy by attempting to find the animal’s guardian. If the car is in a mall or grocery store parking lot, for example, ask to have the owner paged over the building’s PA system. If a window on the vehicle is cracked open, try to increase the airflow inside by fanning the pet with a portable fan.
“You can also help us spread the word about the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car. Download "10 Minutes to Disaster" - a dogs in hot cars information brochure and distribute it in your neighbourhood or visit our website for more information on dogs in hot cars,” suggests Chortyk.
Check ahead before travelling with your pet
Many beaches and parks have dog restrictions during the summer months. Don’t arrive faced with having to decide whether it is safe to leave your pet in the car.
Don’t take your dog out in the heat
Choose cooler times of day to walk him such as early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is at its lowest points.
“A lot of dogs will run and play to the point of exhaustion, and it’s the guardian’s responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen,” says Chortyk. Chortyk also advises guardians to avoid hot asphalt and cement, which can burn your dog’s foots pads, in favour of shady park trails. Also, since all pets drink more water in hot weather, make sure you carry plenty of water with you when exercising your pet.
Be on the watch for heatstroke
Dogs cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws. On summer days, high temperatures may make it impossible for pets to cool themselves. Learn how to recognize the signs of heatstroke in dogs.
“Lastly, whatever you plan to do with your pets this summer, always bring water and the number of a vet with you so that you’re prepared in case of an emergency,” says Chortyk.
The BC SPCA provides care and protection to more than 34,000 animals each year. Your gift can help rescue an animal in distress and provide emergency medical care, shelter and love. Please donate today.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.