Since my car was in the shop over Memorial Day weekend, I rented a car as Kasey, my dog, and I needed to do some traveling. Unfortunately, the rented car's air conditioner went out as the hot summer weather came into our area on Monday.
Our ride in the warm car was proof summer had arrived. As we head outdoors to enjoy the sunshine, warm temperatures and relaxed atmosphere, we need to take some extra precautions for the care and safety of our companion animals.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and the American Kennel Club offer tips for keeping our pets safe in the heat of summer.
"Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat," noted Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA vice president of veterinary outreach. "And heat stroke can be fatal if not treated promptly."
In summer's nice weather, you may be tempted to take your pets with you in the car as you run errands.
Rebecca Simmons, outreach communication coordinator for the Companion Animals section of the HSUS stated, "On a warm sunny day, windows collect light, trapping heat inside the vehicle, and pushing the temperature inside to dangerous levels."
The temperature inside your car can reach 120 degrees within a matter of minutes, even if the car is parked in the shade. Leaving the windows partially rolled down will not help.
Dogs are designed to conserve heat. Their sweat glands, which are on their nose and the pads of their feet, are inadequate for cooling during hot days. Panting and drinking water helps cool them, but if they only have overheated air to breathe, dogs can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes. Pets left in hot cars, even briefly, can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage, and even die.
We can all help animals in parked cars. Simmons stated, "Get involved. If you see a pet in a parked car during a summer day, go to the nearest store and have the owner paged. Enlist the help of a security guard or call the local police department or local animal control office."
The AKC describes the early stages of heatstroke:
• Rapid breathing
• Excessive drooling
• Bright red gums and tongue
• Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance
Advanced Stages of heatstroke are:
• White or blue gums
• Lethargy, unwillingness to move
• Labored, noisy breathing
If your pet shows symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, Simmons suggests the following steps that may save your companion animal's life:
• Move the animal into the shade or into an air-conditioned area.
• Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet's head, neck and chest or immerse him in cool (not cold) water
• Let your pet drink small amounts or water or lick ice cubes.
• Take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
We need to play it safe and leave our pets at home, in a cool and refreshing environment, while we run errands in the heat of the summer day. In the heat of the summer, we also need to protect our animals by:
• providing them with plenty of cool fresh drinking water.
• avoiding prolonged exposure to sand or hot asphalt, which can burn your dog's paws.
• and by avoiding strenuous exercise on extremely hot days, taking our walks in the early mornings or evenings when the sun's heat is less intense.
Taking extra care of our pets in the heat of the summer months makes sense. We do it for ourselves. We need to do it for them.
Sitting in the shade, relaxing with my dog. One of my favorite summertime activities.
Another sign of summer is The Buddy Foundation's Rummage Sale. 9 a.m. through Sunday, June 5, at the former JoAnn's Fabrics store next to PetSmart, 6-75 W. Rand Road, Arlington Heights.
Paris is female English bulldog. She's 1 year old, and weighs about 64 pounds.
Jimmy is a male beagle mix. He's around 2½ years old and weighs about 40 pounds.
• Contact The Buddy Foundation at (847) 290-5806; visit us at 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights or online at thebuddyfoundation.org.