Keeping Pets Safe in the Desert Heat this Summer
Do you know someone with pets who has recently moved to the Coachella Valley? Perhaps you know someone who has recently become a pet owner. They might not know that taking care of pets in the desert heat is much different than other parts of the country.
There are many precautions and things to consider to insure that our pets are comfortable and safe during the summer.
One thing that owners often overlook is the heat of the pavement. Did you know that dogs and cats can burn the bottoms of their paws? Pavement and blacktop can reach upwards of 165° F.
While paws are generally tougher than human feet and can withstand a little more heat, the temperatures in the desert typically far surpass this threshold of tolerance. As a rule of thumb: If the ground is too hot for bare feet, it is too hot for the paws of our furry friends! Shoe-wearing pet owners should place the palm of their hands on the ground (be it asphalt, cement, or sand) before walking their dogs, and if it’s too hot for their hand, it’s too hot for their pets.
Plan to take pets for their walks early in the morning or late in the evening when the sidewalks and streets are cooler. If your pet needs to go outside during the day, be sure that they have cool grass or shade to walk on.
Something else that might not be known is that dogs and cats can suffer sunburn on their noses, and areas with short fur like ears and around their eyes and lips. Sunburn symptoms include red skin and hair loss around the affected area. Some of the most vulnerable dog breeds include dalmatians, whippets, beagles and bulldogs. However, any pet can get a sunburn in our extreme weather.
Animals are also vulnerable to heat stroke which can be fatal. Dogs and cats with short snouts are extremely susceptible. Early signs of heat exhaustion in cats and dogs include heavy panting or rapid, frantic and noisy breathing, salivation, staggering or difficulty walking, pale or off color lips, bright red tongue, vomiting and diarrhea, possibly with blood. Get your pet out of direct heat, place a wet cool towel over its body, and transport them to the nearest animal hospital.
Pets need plenty of cool shade during the sunniest and hottest parts of the day. For the Coachella Valley plan on keeping your pet indoors from approximately 8am to 7pm.
If they need to go outside briefly, be sure that they have shade and water. Give dogs access to a small pool with a few inches of water in it.
Cats should be indoors as they have poor natural methods for cooling themselves. Cats will pant and lick their fur so that it will evaporate but this is often not adequate in our desert heat.
Last but not least, we all know that leaving pets in the car in the Coachella Valley heat can be fatal. If you see an animal alone and enclosed in a parked car this summer call 911 immediately. And never leave pets unattended in a vehicle for any amount of time.
With a few small considerations and awareness, our pets can have a cool and comfortable summer!