Handling the Heat
To quote a relatively popular song by the late Glenn Frye, “The Heat is On.” This is not only true for us two legged creatures, but also definitely applies to our four-legged companions.
With temperatures in the Central Valley reaching, on average, the mid nineties and even higher most days, there are necessary precautions, both general and species specific, that we as caretakers need to take in order to prevent disaster. I will touch on some of both.
Many of our companions are kept indoors and, as a result, are not at risk for overheating, but for those who spend daytime outdoors, shelter from the sun is a must. As we all know, it is much cooler in the shade than in the direct sun, making rest in the shade vital. Additionally, water must be available at all times in unlimited supply, and this applies to both indoor and outdoor companions.
Another risky endeavor during the hot weather is traveling with our companions. While we are in the car driving along, the air conditioning in the car takes care of the heat. This however is not the case when the car is parked.
Temperatures in parked vehicles increase rapidly within a short period of time. For example, when it is 90° outside, inside a parked car can reach 109° in just 10 minutes and 124° in 30. Succinctly put, don’t EVER leave any companion in a car on a hot day-period. Don’t crack the windows and walk away, it simply will not allow your buddy to stay properly thermoregulated.
I, also, want to mention specifically rabbits here as they are especially sensitive to overheating, which can result in death. Again, indoor rabbits are at almost zero risk, but outdoors is a different story. They must be protected from the heat.
Dogs, like all animals, are sensitive to the heat and they have on fur coats that they can’t take off. Just like people, our dogs’ feet are sensitive to the hot ground. Therefore, for our four legged friends that play outside and are taken for walks, the temperature of the ground is important to keep in mind. Whatever the temperature outside, surfaces such as asphalt are vastly hotter. When it is 77° F outside, a relatively low summer temperature in the Central Valley, the asphalt reaches 125°. This is very hot on pore puppy’s paws. A good rule of thumb for checking if the ground is too hot for your dog’s paws is to place your hand flat down on the ground. If you can’t keep your hand there for at least 5 seconds then the ground is too hot for your pup’s paws.
There are some breeds of dogs that are especially vulnerable to overheating. Number one is the bulldog, including several different subtypes of bulldogs, owing to their limited ability to dissipate body heat. Their degree of risk is so high that I do not recommend having them outdoors for any appreciable length of time during high heat days.
Overall, precaution is necessary when it comes to protecting our pets from the hot summer days. The heat can put a damper on even the most fun events if proper steps aren’t taken. Enjoy the summer days but make sure your companions can too.