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HEAT WAVE! Tips to keep pets cool

It’s baking in Los Angeles this week, with yesterday’s temperatures reaching an all-time record of 113 degrees downtown yesterday. Via the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, here are some important things to keep in mind as pet owners:

September 28, 2010

Los Angeles CA – Los Angelenos thought summer was over, but instead the city was hit with record breaking temperatures.  The weather should cool down later this week, but until then, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) reminds people NOT to leave pets or children unattended in cars.  Even a quick trip to the store can become deadly.

On a hot day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar up to 160 degrees.  This temperature is hot enough to cause heat stroke and permanent brain damage in children or pets.

Dogs and cats’ normal temperatures are several degrees higher than those of humans.  Animals confined in a car, yard, or dog run, with no protection from the heat and without ample water are more susceptible to heat stroke than humans.
Dogs with flat faces like pugs, obese dogs, and ones with heavy coats all face an even greater risk of overheating.  It is important to realize that just like humans, not all dogs deal with heat the same way. 

“Unlike humans, dogs do not sweat.  Instead, they lose heat through their tongues, nose, and footpads so it’s important to take extra precautions on hot days,” says spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein. 

California Penal Code 597.7 states it is illegal to “leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat…”  This law also authorizes the proper authority to “take all steps that are reasonably necessary for the removal of an animal from a motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, breaking into the motor vehicle…”

If you see an animal overheating in a locked vehicle, take down the make, model, and license plate and have the owner paged in nearby shops.  Contact spcaLA’s Humane Officers at 800-540-SPCA (7722) or the local police department immediately.

spcaLA urges people to consider the following hot weather tips to prevent a tragedy from occurring:

  • Keep plenty of clean, cool drinking water available at all times for your pet, including when traveling. If your pets are left alone during the day, ensure that their bowl is tip-proof.
  • Keep your pet at home. Never leave your pet in a parked car, not even for a minute. 

  • Protect your pet from the sun. If your pet must stay in the yard (instead of the cool indoors which is recommended) be sure there is adequate shade and ventilation.
  • Keep pets groomed.  To help your pet stay cool, clip coats short, but not shaved. Sunburn is a danger to animals, especially light-colored animals. Apply regular sun block to vulnerable areas such as the ears and nose.
  • Dog pads burn easily, so avoid hot surfaces such as asphalt on hot days. Exercise pets in the morning or evening when it is cooler.  After hiking, make sure to check for fox tails and other burns, as these can cause major problems.
  • If a pet is overcome by heat (detected by excessive panting, heavily salivating, and/or immobility) immerse him or her slowly in cool water to lower body temperature, and then go to a veterinarian. Never immerse a pet in ice cold water, as it may cause shock.

For more information, please contact Ana Bustilloz at 323-730-5300 x252, cell 323-707-1271 or abustilloz@spcaLA.com

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