Prepare for upcoming intense heat

It’s the first day of spring! While some of us may be rejoicing that warmer weather will soon be here, the rest of us are not looking forward to it — especially Southerners.

After living in North Carolina and now Georgia, I’ve experienced the extreme heat and humidity. It is not fun, and it can be very dangerous.

Typically from March to September are the months to be weary. This is when you start to hear the sad news about people leaving their pets or children in their cars and they die of heat illness. You may also hear of people working outside and suffering from heat strokes. Soldiers, construction workers and many others are at a disadvantage with their uniforms and heavy gear.

I can’t stress enough the importance of preparing for the heat before it gets here. I just wrote an article for my job regarding heat safety (information provided by the Fort Benning safety office) for Soldiers and the heat mitigation tools they use: Soldiers urged to prepare for upcoming heat. This can also be put into life outside the military. Please read the article by clicking here and educate yourself on how to keep yourself and others safe.

I wrote a blog post last year about keeping pets safe in the heat: Keep pets safe in extreme heat. Again, please read this article to prepare yourself, your family and pets before the heat and humidity arrive.

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Photo source: www.uab.edu

This is a crucial and scary time of the year, and I hope you take this blog post seriously.

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Keep pets safe in extreme heat

The extreme heat conditions during the summer months can be detrimental to your pets. It is important to take caution when taking your pets outside, bringing them for a ride in the car, leaving them outside while you go shopping, and all of the other instances where your pets leave the house. Even if your pets do not leave the house on hot days, it is still highly suggested that you ensure your pet is hydrated at all times and has ample access to air conditioning. I’ve heard several sad stories from this week alone of pets suffering heat strokes and passing away from the hot conditions. Please be mindful of your pets and remember to keep them safe!

Right now in Fayetteville, North Carolina it is 102 degrees. It has been between 96 and 102 degrees each day this week so far, and it may cool down a bit in the upcoming days, but only to about 92 degrees. The humidity does not help us either!

While some people enjoy this weather and make it out to be a fun day at the pool or the beach, most of us get very tired and miserable from this weather (I’m definitely one of the tired and miserable ones). I have a hard time being outside when it is THAT hot. I know my three-year-old dog, Scrappy (a lab/pit mix), is not a fan of this weather either. We take one lap around the block and he is ready to go back inside and hang out on the cool tile floor all day. My 11-year-old foster dog, Eli, is also not a fan of the heat. He has LOTS of fur and is only 14 lbs. During this weather we all take shorter walks and spend less time outside. We also drink plenty of water!

Here are some great tips to keep your pets safe during these hot and humid summer months:

1) KEEP YOUR PET HYDRATED. I cannot express enough how vital this is. If your pet is not hydrated it will increase his or her risk of suffering a heat stroke.

2) PROVIDE THE PROPER AIR AND SHADE. Do NOT leave your pet outside on hot and humid days. Even if your dog has shade, or even a dog house, he or she can still suffer a heat stroke (sometimes these areas can get hotter). It is best to leave your pet inside and provide air conditioning and fans to help keep your pet(s) cool. Just leaving a fan on will not do justice; it is best to have air circulating throughout the house.

3) DON’T BRING YOUR DOGS IN THE CAR. Too many times people bring their pet(s) to daycare or to a friend’s house and  forget they are in the car. I just heard of a story yesterday where a woman was coming home from grocery shopping and her dogs jumped in the car as she was unloading her purchases. She didn’t notice they jumped in the car and unfortunately both of them suffered a heat stroke. Even when it is 70 degrees outside, it is still dangerous to leave your pet in the car. The temperatures rise VERY quickly in automobiles. During these times, do not even think about putting your pet in the car. You may think “I could never forget my dog is in the car” – but unfortunately this happens to the best of animal lovers quite often.

4) HUMIDITY MAKES THE HEAT WORSE. Always check the humidity, too. When it is very humid outside it can make it hard for your pet to breathe and get the proper ventilation in his or her body. Their body temperatures will increase rapidly.

5) LIMIT OUTDOOR/EXERCISE ACTIVITY. It is best to keep your pets inside and limit their exercise during the hot times. Making them too tired and dehydrated, again, increases their risk of suffering a heat stroke.

6) WATCH FOR SIGNS OF A HEAT STROKE. The Humane Society of the United States says “Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.”

How do you treat a pet when he or she suffers a heat stroke? Take him/her directly to a veterinarian. Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes (Source: The Humane Society of the United States).

I hope you read this and take it seriously. Pets are family, too – they deserve to have the same care as us humans! For more tips on keeping your pet safe in the heat, check out this article from The Humane Society of the United States.