PRINCETON — Summer is the time to kick back, relax and enjoy the outdoors. But for pets, it can be a time of danger if proper care is not taken. Pets need more attention in the humid, hot temperatures, as they are more susceptible to overheating.
To help keep all furry friends safe this season, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has provided a list of hot weather tips for owners to read and consider. Take these five safety tips into consideration as the temperatures continue to rise:
Travel in style
Traveling can be highly stressful for pets. If planning a road trip, prep pets in advance by taking short rides in the car and getting them used to riding in a crate or car harness.
Dr. Louis Murray, vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital, reminds pet owners they should never leave their animals unattended in a parked vehicle
“Parked cars, even with windows open, become very hot in a short amount of time, and this can lead to heatstroke or death,” he said
If traveling by air, putting pets in the cargo area isn’t ideal. If this is unavoidable, take great care to purchase the required crate and tell airline employees about the animal to avoid them being left on the tarmac or outside during extreme weather.
Dogs and cats can become dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of water when the weather is hot. Also, make sure pets have a shady place to escape the sun, and don’t let dogs linger outdoors, especially on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, the dog’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can get burned.
Watch what they eat
Summertime can be perfect for backyard barbecues or parties, but remember the food and drink served to guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, and remember the snacks served to friends should not be treats for pets. Any change of diet – even for one meal – may give dogs or cats severe digestive ailments. Make sure to avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol, since these are poisonous to pets.
Beware of “high-rise syndrome”
During warmer months, many animal hospitals and veterinarians see an increase in injured animals as a result of “High-Rise Syndrome,” which is when pets fall or jump out of windows and are seriously or fatally injured. Keep all unscreened windows in the home closed, and make sure screens are tightly secured.
Love the leash
Warm weather can inspire longer walks, but while this is exciting for both dog and owner, it’s important that dogs are always kept on leashes — with collars and up-to-date ID tags — to protect them from getting loose and injuring themselves or others.
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A local animal control officer’s advice
PRINCETON — Princeton Animal Control Officer Nancy Bland has been called to the scene on numerous occasions related to animal cruelty during the hot summer months.
In most of these cases, she said an owner had become forgetful or careless and didn’t provide the necessities for their pets during the high temperature days.
Bland said to keep a pet safe in the summer months, it’s all about remembering the simple things. These important pieces of advice can’t be stressed enough to pet owners and should be considered when caring for animals.
When talking about pet summer safety, the first bit of information Bland shares is remembering to provide adequate shelter for pets; this could relate to hot, direct sunlight or summer thunderstorms.
Another thing to keep in mind, is making sure the pet has plenty of water to drink. It’s also important to secure the water container, so the pet cannot dump the water.
While it’s well known pets like to take rides with their owners in the vehicle, Bland said they should not be taken in the car if an owner plans to make stops and leave the pet inside the vehicle.
“It gets too hot, too fast for them,” she said. “Dogs already have a high body temperature, and we know they love to go for rides. But take them in the car when you’re going to get an ice cream or drop off a letter in the mail. Don’t take them along when you’re going grocery shopping. Time gets away from us, and a few minutes in the car is dangerous for your pet.”
Bland hands out cards to residents about summer pet safety. In the information, it states on an 85-degree Fahrenheit day, the temperature inside a car — with the window’s slightly opened — will reach 102 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 minutes. In 30 minutes it will rise to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. On warmer days it will go even higher.
A dog’s normal body temperature is 101.5 to 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. A dog can withstand a body temperature of 107 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit for only a short time before suffering irreparable brain damage, or even death.
Bland said pet owners who get caught leaving their pets in the car for long periods of time can be cited for cruel treatment or aggravated cruel treatment, depending on the situation. Police officers also have authority to break a car window to remove an animal in distress during an emergency.
If a pet is overcome by heat exhaustion, immerse the pet in cold water until body temperature is lowered.