As the summer months approach so are the dangers of the warmer and dryer weather. Newscasters are warning people of heat waves, fires, and freak thunderstorms affecting our regions. Adults and children are encouraged to drink lots of liquids and to seek cool, shady places during the heat of the day to avoid dehydration and sun strokes.
Not only does the heat of the day affect people it distresses the animals. Animals need do have plenty of food, water and shelter to protect themselves from the harms of the hot sun. Therefore, it is the responsibility of animal enthusiasts to take extra precautions and considerations for the safety of their pets and livestock. It is always a good practice to have an evacuation plan available in the time of an emergency.
In terms of shelter, let's just get to the point –heat kills. Animals need a place to go where they can enjoy shade or at the bear minimum find a cool place to rest. And yes, this includes livestock. Heatstroke is as dangerous for animals as it is for humans. "Animals are at an increased risk for heat stroke if they are very old or very young, overweight, not used to being outside for long periods of time, not conditioned for prolonged exercise, or if they have heart, respiratory, or certain neurological diseases" (Blakeley).
Of key concern, do not forget about the most notorious killer for dogs during the heat of the day—the car. "On a relatively mild 85-degree day, it takes only 10 minutes for the interior of a car to reach 102+ degrees—and within 30 minutes, the inside of the car can be a staggering 120 degrees" (ASPCA). Simply leaving the window rolled-down a few inches to let air inside the car is not enough to stop the furnace inside from occurring. The best practice to follow is to leave a dog at home where she is protected.
Food and Water
Dogs, cats, and livestock should have sufficient access to food and water. "Animals can survive if they lose their body fat and half their muscle. However, even a 10% loss of body water can result in very serious illness, because water is required for almost every bodily function. For our dogs, just as for us, hot weather increases the need for fresh water. A dog can become dehydrated in a matter of hours without it" (Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff).
As rule of thumb, if you are outside with your dog and you are thirsty chances are so is your pet. And for you joggers please take caution when taking your dog for a run. Best he goes with you during the early hour mornings to avoid exhaustion and heat stroke caused from the heat of the mid-afternoon.
Important food safety tip: Spring and summer is the time to host or attend all types of parties or celebrations. If you are hosting a party, this is the perfect time for dogs and cats to find a variety of table scraps. Whether receiving food scraps from party goers, cleaning scraps off the floor or rummaging through the garbage; parties can provide a smorgasbord of pet delights. In many cases, people are not aware that numerous types of human foods are dangerous for pets. So unless you do not want your pets to have access to dangerous foods such as chocolates, macadamia nuts, avocados, onions, grapes, and raisins, you may want to keep your dog or cat in secure quarters, and out of reach of perilous temptation.
Emergency Evacuation Plan
Natural disasters often occur with little notice. Keeping your pets prepared for an emergency is necessary and requires three important steps: (1) prepare (2) plan (3) stay informed. Preparing requires keeping up to three days of food in airtight and waterproof containers. Have enough water set aside for up to three days. Remember, you need to store a food and water supply for family and pets. If your pet is on medication have an extra supply available within your pet survival kit. Other necessities to make available are a first-aid kit; collar with ID tag, and leash. Store the aforementioned items in a crate, pet carrier or cat-litter box so these items are available in case of an emergency evacuation.
Planning involves the important step of creating an evacuation plan. Make sure to have an idea of how to collect your pet(s). Important, do some research to learn what hotels, motels, or public emergency shelters are in the area or adjacent cities allow pets. If possible, coordinate with family or friends within the area or adjacent cities for housing accommodations. Lastly, have a plan coordinated with your neighbors to help with pet evacuation in the event you are not home during an emergency; this includes arranging a meeting place to collect your pets. Make sure to have a contact list of emergency names and phone numbers including contact information for local animal shelters or SPCA locations.
Have the knowledge of what types of disasters are likely to occur in the area which you live. In the event of an emergency do your best to stay informed. Remember to place a battery operated radio and a supply of batteries within your supply kit. In the event of an electrical outage you may need to resort to this for news information. Follow city or state evacuation notifications and instructions.
Keep pets safe and follow pet safety tips. Prepare, plan and stay informed.