DETROIT (CBS Detroit) The mercury is rising this Memorial Day weekend in metro Detroit, with temps expected to soar near 90 degrees. And while people can choose ways to stay cool, your best friend may not be as lucky.
That’s why the Michigan Humane Society is urging pet owners to take precautions to protect their pets from heat-related dangers that can result in heatstroke, or worse.
Rule No. 1 says that while dogs are great companions and, as we all know, love riding in the car – it’s a better idea to leave them at home on hot days. The Humane Society says on an 85-degree day, a car parked in the shade with the windows cracked could reach an internal temperature of 102 degrees in just 10 minutes.
“Pet owners bringing their dogs along on errands may have the best intentions and not think twice about dashing into a store for just a couple minutes,” said Debby MacDonald, MHS Chief Cruelty Investigator. “But not only can that cause immediate discomfort and stress for the fur-coated passenger, when it takes longer than expected due to a hard-to-find item, a line, or running into a neighbor, it could put the pet at serious risk of heatstroke.”
In warm weather, the overheated air in a parked car interferes with a pet’s normal cooling process because, unlike humans, dogs and cats do not perspire to cool their bodies down – they pant. When the air they breathe is overheated, the evaporation that usually occurs during panting is insufficient to allow proper cooling. A pet, like a child, can only withstand a higher body temperature for a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage – or even death.
If you see an animal in immediate distress in a parked car, ask the store to make an announcement or, if necessary, contact local animal control or police. In Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park, call the Michigan Humane Society’s Cruelty Hotline at 313-872-3401. Also contact these agencies if you notice a dog kept outside without adequate food, water or shelter.
Here are some additional warm weather pet safety tips from the Michigan Humane Society:
- MHS strongly recommends that pets live indoors with the rest of the family, year-round. In the summer this will also help prevent heat-related illness and reduce exposure to mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and internal parasites.
- Bring animals inside during hot or humid weather. Pets should not be left outside in very warm, humid conditions for extended periods, even in the shade.
- Ensure that pets have access to plenty of fresh, cool water at all times – indoors and out. Hydration is critical to help your pet regulate his body temperature.
- Avoid chaining or tethering a dog outside. He may get twisted and become unable to reach shade or water, or his water dish may get knocked over.
- In homes without air conditioning, use fans to keep air circulating or keep your pet in a cooler area of the house, such as the basement, during the hottest part of the day.
- Avoid vigorously exercising pets during the heat of the day. Instead, take walks in the early morning or evening hours. Avoid hot concrete or asphalt surfaces as they may cause damage or discomfort to the animal’s paw pads.
- Keep in mind that old, young and short-nosed animals such as bulldogs, pugs and Himalayan or Persian cats are especially susceptible to heatstroke. However, it is a concern for all pets during hot weather.
- If you open windows in your home, be sure the screens are secure to prevent cats or other pets from falling out.
- Never leave pets unattended around swimming pools, to help prevent accidents.
If your pet is overcome by heat, you can give immediate first aid by immersing him in cool water. If you are unable to immerse him, lay him on cool, shaded grass, pour cold water over him and call your pet’s veterinarian immediately.