In anticipation of the record-setting heat predicted in Seattle this week, the Seattle Animal Shelter is once again reminding pet owners to take proper precaution to protect their pets.
Weather forecasts indicate that starting tomorrow, temperatures will shoot above 90 degrees and could approach 100 degrees Wednesday through Saturday. And because the low temperatures won’t drop below the mid 60’s, the evenings won’t bring must of a respite from the searing heat.
“Never leave your animal unattended in a vehicle,” said Seattle Animal Shelter Acting Director Ann Graves. “Even on a 70-degree day, cars left in the sun can turn into lethal ovens, reaching fatal temperatures of more than 100 degrees within just a few minutes. And with the movement of the sun, cars originally left in the shade can soon be in direct sunlight.”
“Even dogs left locked in cars in the shade with the windows cracked on hot days are at risk of brain damage or death,” Graves added. “Our officers receive emergency calls every day about animals locked in cars. If the animal is in distress, officers will use all means possible to rescue the animal.”
The warm weather also creates hazards for pets left at home. As many homes in the Northwest don’t have air conditioning due to the normally moderate climate, people leave their windows open during warm weather. The fresh air is essential to you and your pets, but be aware of the enticement and danger an open, screenless window can pose for cats.
“Make sure your window screens are secure, especially on second floors and above,” Graves said. “Open, screenless windows are an invitation for curious cats. They may be known for always landing on their feet, but those little paws are no match for the combination of hard ground and gravity when the fall begins six, or even two, stories up.”
Graves offered the following tips for protecting pets during hot weather:
- Never leave your animal tethered or kenneled in direct sunlight. Provide a shady area for retreat, such as a dog house, porch or shady tree, and always provide access to plenty of cool water.
- If you leave animals indoors, open the screened windows, keep a fan running, provide plenty of water and, if possible, leave them in a cool location like a basement.
- Never leave dogs or cats unattended in a closed, locked vehicle.
- If you must travel with your pet, carry water. If a trip requires you leave your pet in the car at any point, think about saving that for another day. It’s not worth the risk.
- Avoid overexerting your animal in hot weather. Pavement can get especially hot, and obesity, old age, underlying disease and previous bouts of heat stroke can predispose an animal to the condition.
Signs of heat stroke in dogs include heavy panting, excessive thirst, glazed eyes, vomiting and bloody diarrhea, bright or dark red tongue/gums, staggering, elevated body temperature (104ºF and up), weakness/collapse, increased pulse and heartbeat, seizures, excessive drooling, and unconsciousness.
Click here to see what to do if you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke.
I should also add that if you don’t have air conditioning and can’t leave windows open when you’re gone due to security concerns, don’t leave pets alone for more than an hour or two. The temperature in small homes and apartments, especially those exposed to direct sunlight, can easily reach 80-90 degrees.
If you see an animal that may be in need of assistance, or if you have questions, contact the Seattle Animal Shelter at 206-386-PETS (7387).