Advice submitted by Debbie Knowles.
Last night, as we were coming home, I saw something that worried me. A large-ish, furry Shepherd mix, probably about 50+ lbs was tied to a parking meter on Metropolitan Ave where we live.
Now, it was about 5:30, but the sun was still shining strongly, and while there was a little shade, it was sparse. The dog, panting, looked hot and tired. The sidewalk looked hot enough that it shone in the late afternoon sun.
I went and looked in the Deli, in front of where the dog was tied. There were a few people in there. My husband promised that when he came down to the car for the second bunch of groceries, he’d go into the store if the dog was still tied there. Mercifully the dog, and its person, were gone. But I felt for the dog, because dogs don’t wear shoes, and his heavy coat of fur must have been heavy for him in the summer heat.
In the summer, the inside of a car acts as a greenhouse, and can go from air conditioned cool to almost a hundred in a matter of about 3 minutes. The windows act as heat conductors. Any animals, plants, children left in this make shift oven will suffer from overheating quickly, and could die in a matter of minutes. Nothing alive should be left alone in a car, not even for a minute, unless there is a person sitting there with them with the air conditioner on. You cannot even leave an animal in a car with the windows open in hot Summer heat – animals simply don’t have the ability to sweat as humans do, and a car, even with windows cracked still gets hot as blazes within minutes and the heat can be severe enough to kill them.
Certain breeds of dogs (and cats) also should have limited time outside in the heat of day as well. Those with short muzzles, longer coats, or lot of – or not much – fur are all at risk in the kind of weather where ‘only ‘mad’ dogs and Englishmen walk about in the noonday sun’. Dogs and cats with little fur can suffer sunburn, and dogs and cats can suffer burns on the pads of their paws regardless of their fur.
Some additional cautions should be taken with animals in the heat of summer such as these pointers.
1) Don’t take your dog for a walk in the heat of the summer days. Follow the ‘Southern Creed’- walk before 8am or after 6pm. If the dog needs to go out in between these times, make the walks brief, take an umbrella to shade yourself and the dog, and walk in the shade, preferably on grassy areas.
Bring water with you, for yourself and the dog. Many pet stores sell ‘doggie boots’ which will protect dog’s pads from burning pavement. Realize dogs with exposed skin like Chinese Crested and dogs groomed to the skin can suffer sunburn (as can cats such as Rex’s or Sphinx). Make sure that they are protected from direct sun.
2) Never, ever leave your pet, plant, or child in a car. Not under any circumstances, not even for a moment. It is dangerous.
3) Don’t let your dog ride with his head out the car window when driving. The dog can fall, jump, or be injured by anything that could become airborne when tires go over it like small rocks. Also, if another car came to close, it could harm the dog.
4) Walking dogs off a leash is dangerous. Why? When I was 17, I was walking our family dog, who was a very docile, obedient animal and ‘trained’ at my side near Forest Park. I turned to pick up after her, and when I turned back, she was gone. It took all of 3 minutes. Very luckily for me, she was found by a kind lady walking her dog a mile away at the other end of the park, and she called the vet listed on our dogs tag and we got her back.
She had never done this before, and didn’t again, for she was always leashed after that. Shanna was terrified of fireworks, and she might have heard one in the distance, or a car backfire. But it taught me a lesson – no dog is trained enough to be off leash unless they are in a dog run or fenced yard.
5) I would also advise that on hot days with heat advisory alerts, if you have an air conditioner, keep it on for your pet when you’re away. Our apartment is small, and when the air is off gets very hot, even with a fan. My elderly cat doesn’t like the air on high, but she definitely doesn’t like it too hot. And our Ruffy has asthma, and needs the air on.
Any animal who has any problems with asthma, or breathing (dogs or cats with pushed in or short snouts, especially) should have air conditioning, or at the very least, be in a dark, shady place with plenty of water available. I think it is better to pay the extra electric than face a medical crisis with your pet.
6) Please don’t leave your dog tied up outside, even if in the shade. This is an invitation to anyone who would steal. You wouldn’t leave your wallet with you ID and credit cards outside the store, would you? Well, how much more important is a member of your family who can’t speak up for themselves.
I’ve heard that people think their dog won’t go off with anyone else, or that they live in a ‘nice’ neighborhood where ‘that doesn’t happen’. Well, it does happen, all too often, and better to be safe and do your dog walking in one trip, your errands in another than to lose your dog and maybe never see them again.
Summer time can be a great time for everyone, pets included. If we use common sense, our furry family can enjoy it with us and be safe and sound!