Which do you think kills more dogs? A 75-degree day in February or a 100-degree day in July? With absolutely no study to back me up, I’m going to theorize the day in February is more deadly. Why? We’re not prepared or thinking about the risks.
During the winter many people bring their dogs with them on short errands and without worry leave them in the car. With fewer opportunities to exercise and have adventures, people take them along just to get them out of the house for a bit. What they don’t realize is that on a sunny 75-degree day, the temperature in the car can quickly build to a deadly high. We’re not thinking about summertime dangers and what starts out as a cool morning can rapidly warm up once the fog burns off.
It has been unseasonably warm this month and I worry about all the people who insist on bringing their dog (and occasionally their cat or other pet) along for the car ride. Of course now every animal is an “emotional support” animal and are pushing their way into offices and stores, which normally would not allow pets.
In a way, that’s true. We love our pets for their unconditional love and support; so in that way they all serve as emotional support. That, however, is not enough to give them full-access rights like service animals are allowed. But that is, perhaps, a topic for another day. What I wanted to remind everyone is about the dangers of this unexpected heat wave.
When it’s warm outside, say 75-degrees and above, we need to think in summer-mode. Exercise our pets early in the morning or after the sun sets and not in the heat of the day. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water to drink and shade available anytime they are outside. Remember that not only does the sun move throughout the day, in the winter it is overall lower than during the summer and so it may limit the natural shade you count on for your pet. Not to mention that trees have lost their leaves so they do not supply the same huge canopies of shade in February as they do in July. You may need to supplement with awnings or shade screens.
Just as we forget to wear sunscreen on what we think is a mild spring day and often wind up with a surprise sunburn; we need to think about protecting our pets from the damaging sun rays. This is especially important for animals with white on their noses and ears. They can, and do, get skin cancers and it’s not pretty. Many cats have had to have their earflaps removed when the sun eats at them. It’s harder to remove the nose so be sure to keep white-faced cats out of the sun as much as possible. This is difficult since they love laying in the window and catching a few rays! Yes, the sun’s damaging rays can go through windows! You can rub on sunscreen but most cats will just lick it off. So pulling the drapes may be the best, but not most popular, answer.
Don’t know about you but I’m loving these warm days and definitely have Spring Fever. Just wanted to remind everyone to pull out the hot weather safety tips that are always on our minds in the summer but are sometimes forgotten during the winter.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $100 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Sonoma County Bunfest is coming! This family friendly event will be on Sat., March 28, 11-3 at the RP Community Center. It’s free and features top-notch speakers, bunny products for purchase, rabbit rescues, arts and crafts and other kid activities, and adorable rabbits of course! Find out more at SonomaCountyBunfest.com.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.