The dog days of summer: Keeping pets safe in triple digit weather

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — With temperatures reaching triple digits in KELOLAND, there is a focus on staying safe in the summer heat. This means, among other things, staying cool and keeping hydrated. But if you have a pet, you’ve got more than just yourself to think about.

When it comes to extreme temperatures, pets can be just as vulnerable as humans. KELOLAND News took to the streets, sidewalks and parks today with the heat index peaking in Sioux Falls at 111°F. We took along an infrared heat gun to get a sense of the temperatures your four-legged friends could be encountering. In addition to this, we also brought together some essential tips to keep your companions safe.

One important factor to consider, according to Dr. Barry Kellogg of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, is the humidity level. “It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature,” he says. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”

If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.

Dr. Barry Kellogg

A simple way to keep pets safe during a heatwave is to limit their outdoor exercise, says the Humane Society. This can include limiting the time and intensity of their exercise, as well as limiting their exercise to times in the morning and evening when temperatures are lower.

To avoid overheating, limit your pet’s outdoor exercise

To see the difference that a few hours can make we took a walk through downtown, once at 11:45 am, and again at 3:00 pm to scan the temperature of objects animals could come into contact with. These included lamp posts, benches, metal manhole covers and of course, the pavement.

The lamp post climbed by 8 degrees
The sidewalk say an increase of 16°F
Manhole covers rose 10°F
This bench rose a total of 4°F

These comparisons showed a clear rise in temperature, with the pavement rising by 16°F to 127°F. According to the National Institute for Standards and Technology, in humans, this is more than enough to cause 1st degree burns.

Access to water is another important factor. “Pets can get dehydrated quickly,” says the ASPCA “so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors.” In addition to this, the organization says to ensure that pets have access to shade, and to keep them inside when it’s too hot.

The difference between a shaded and sunny area can be stark. We compared locations around downtown around noon to showcase the difference between the two.

The difference between shaded and unshaded grass was a whopping 29°F
The difference between shaded and unshaded pavement was 18°F

In addition to this, pet owners must be mindful of the surfaces their pets come into contact with. Streets and sidewalks, as well as metal surfaces and even fencing can get extremely hot on a sweltering day. Even short amounts of time in contact with these surfaces can result in burnt and blistered paws.

Never leave your pets in a car on hot day, as the temperatures can skyrocket within minutes to deadly temperatures. One KELOLAND News car served as our example in this case, sitting in the sun throughout the day. By around noon, the hottest temperature recorded in the car came in at 150.5°F. Just 3 hours later that temperature had risen to 162.5°F. This is hot enough to cause instant 3rd degree burns to human skin.

The shaded back seat of the care registered 113°F at noon, and had climbed to 125°F by 3:00pm.

Keeping a watchful eye out for heat stroke is important. According to the Humane Society, the following symptoms are all signs you need to take action.

  • Heavy panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy and fever
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Profuse salivation
  • Vomiting
  • A deep red or purple tongue
  • Seizure and unconsciousness

If you see any of these symptoms, the Humane Society says you need to move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area, apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck and chest or run cool (not cold) water over them. You should also let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. You should also take them immediately to the vet.

One important thing to note is that certain breeds of animals do especially poorly in hot, humid weather. “Boxers, pugs, shih tzus and other dogs and cats with short muzzles,” says the Humane Society “will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.”

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