information provided by the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association
SPRINGFIELD,Ill. (July 16, 2020) – If it’s brutally hot outside for you, it’s likely even hotter for your pet.
The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA) wants pet owners to clearly understand the risks that hot weather brings to companion animals and outdoor pets.
When it comes to cars, even on a temperate day, heat rises in a matter of minutes to sometimes over 100 degrees.
“We encourage pet owners to travel with their pets when it’s hot out only if absolutely necessary,” says Dr. Olivia Rudolphi, President, ISVMA. “Sure, it’s always nice to take the pup out for a drive to get them out of the house. But if you leave him or her in the car, even for a short period of time with windows cracked, it’s just not enough for the rising heat to escape from the vehicle.”
Dr. Rudolphi suggests leaving the pet at home if there is a possibility that they will be required to be kept in a vehicle without adequate ventilation.
For people going on a car trip with a dog or cat, Rudolphi suggests these tips to ensure safety:
- Prepare to make sure pets can stay hydrated. Ensure there is plenty of cool water and that they have seating or riding options that can keep them out of the direct sun.
- Create safety boundaries: Keep animals away from the driving space in the car. It’s never a good idea to let animals rest on your lap, to lay in a foot well or hang out windows, actions that could cause an accident. It is against the law in Illinois to have a pet in the driver’s seat while the car is in motion.
- Don’t play with or feed pets while driving. Distractions can cause interference with the driver’s ability to react to any driving condition.
- When stopped for a break, avoid letting pets walk on hot surfaces, such as blacktop or concrete parking lots or sidewalks that can burn paws.
- Talk with your veterinarian about hot weather tips and how to keep pets safe from heat exposure/exhaustion. Know how to recognize the symptoms of heat stress and what first aid steps can be taken if a pet becomes stressed.
Dr. Rudolphi reports that there are other summertime safety issues to keep in mind as well beyond car travel:
- Take walks or hikes in cooler times of day (morning/evening), not running or walking with your dog when heat is at its highest (mid-morning/noon/early afternoon).
- Ensure that outdoor dogs, cats, or other animals have plenty of water to drink and have shade options to keep them out of the direct sun. Consider moving them indoors, into a garage with plenty of ventilation (i.e., fan), or in a basement where it is cooler than outside during the hottest times of the day.
- Consider a “summer cut” for dogs, helping them to keep their body cooler.
- Perform frequent “coat checks” to look for ticks embedded in their fur. Make sure pets are protected with effective anti-parasite collars, powders, treatments, or other preventative options.
- Talk with a veterinarian about heartworm protection, even for dogs that are primarily kept indoors. Mosquitos are equal-opportunity organisms and it only takes a matter of seconds for a bite from a single mosquito to infect your dog.
- Make sure garden and yard fertilizers, pesticides, and chemicals are out of a pet’s reach. Also, be sure to read the labels of each chemical to determine the withdrawal time the pet needs to be restricted from the treated area.
- Know that dirt, mud, and standing bodies of water (stagnant ponds) can be breeding grounds for infectious parasites.
- When pets are out in larger bodies of water, whether on a boat or at a beach, make sure they are protected with a flotation device or other safety gear. Water currents or large waves can be just as dangerous to animals as they are to people.
- If cooking outdoors, know that there are human foods that can be toxic or dangerous to animals, especially dogs. These include bones from various cuts of meat (pork chops/steaks/ribs/chicken), pork products (rich in fat that can upset stomachs), alcohol, guacamole, and anything with naturally occurring sugar as an ingredient (desserts/baked goods, ketchup, BBQ sauce, grapes). Chocolate can be toxic to dogs. Also, it’s a good idea not to pour grill drippings on the ground for a pet to eat, as they could ingest dirt and rocks.
The ISVMA is a professional association representing more than 2,500 member veterinarians, veterinary and technician students, and Certified Veterinary Technicians from around the state to promote and protect veterinary practices. ISVMA leaders and members study a multitude of cutting-edge medical and business practices, as well as pertinent legislation to determine their impact on pets, animals, and their human caretakers.