MIAMI COUNTY — In the summer, Miami County residents are all too familiar with the heat. However, as the weather continues to get warmer and people spend more time outside, pet owners should take extra precautions to protect their furry friends.
Hot weather, especially in cars, is more dangerous for animals than humans. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that on an 80-degree Fahrenheit day, a car can reach 114 degrees Fahrenheit in just 30 minutes.
“Never leave an animal alone in a car — even with the windows cracked,” said Lisa Nadasi, a veterinarian at Oakview Veterinary Hospital in Piqua. “Animals can’t sweat, so overheating is only prevented by whatever they can pant out.”
The weather outside can also prove to be dangerous in the heat. Even though it may be cooler in the shade, animals can still overheat.
“Pay attention to not only the heat but the humidity. A good gauge of when it is safe to take an animal out is to add the humidity percentage and the temperature together. If the figure is over 130, it is safest to avoid any outdoor activities with animals,” Nadasi said.
Heat stroke in animals can happen sooner and in cooler temperatures than humans.
“A dog’s temperature ranges from 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, so even if you’re not uncomfortable just yet, they may be,” said Kay LeVan, practice coordinator at the Troy Animal Hospital.
Along with heat stroke, pet owners should take precautions before taking their animal on a walk.
“There is no protective barrier on dogs’ feet, so they are very susceptible to burns on hot pavement,” LeVan said.
Dr. Martin English of English Veterinary Clinic of Tipp City said the hot asphalt can cause skin destruction. He said if the air temperature outside is 77 degrees, the asphalt temperature is 125 degrees; 86 degrees, the asphalt is 135 degrees; and 87 degrees, the asphalt is 143 degrees.
At 125 degrees, skin destruction can occur in just 60 seconds, according to English. He said pet owners should always check the asphalt prior to allowing their pet to walk on it.
“Paws will get burned,” English said. “If it’s too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for theirs.”
LeVan also recommends taking animals on walks when the temperature will be at its most bearable, such as in the morning or at dusk. Taking dogs on walks off of pavement and on trails — with plenty of water — will also protect their feet when the paved ground is not suitable for their paws.
“If your pet is acting overheated, cool them down with cold water — never ice — and use alcohol on the insides of their ears as soon as possible,” Nadasi said.
To keep animals cool, the ASPCA warns against shaving a long-haired animal. Fur protects against sunburns and helps prevent overheating. Brushing cats often can help protect against the effects of overheating as well.
Not only should pet owners be cautious of the heat, they should also protect their animals from risks associated with summer activities, such as cookouts, fireworks or swimming pools.
The ASPCA warns against animals drinking chlorinated pool water and other chemicals. Chlorine intake can be dangerous, or in some cases, fatal. Many insecticides are also dangerous when injested by animals.
Fireworks can also cause burns and trauma in animals, so when watching the local fireworks displays, make sure animals are far away or inside, away from the noise.
If your animal is acting overheated or has injested something poisonous, call the Troy Animal Hospital at (937) 335-8387, Oakview Veterinary Hospital at (937) 773-9800 or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
Shelby Campbell is an intern for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call who will begin journalism school at Ohio University in the fall.