Summer has arrived, and rising temperatures are sure to follow in Sacramento County. As the mercury rises, it's important for pet owners to take proactive steps to ensure the well-being and safety of their beloved four-legged companions. This summer, make sure you're aware of the potential dangers posed by extreme heat and provide essential care to keep your pets cool and comfortable during the sweltering summer season.
Unlike humans, dogs and cats can't sweat to keep cool. Instead, dogs cool themselves off by panting, and both dogs and cats regulate their temperatures through the pads of their feet. As temperatures soar, pets are at a higher risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke, dehydration, and burned paw pads.
Here are some tips for keeping your pet safe in the heat:
- Never leave pets in parked cars: Even on seemingly mild days, the temperature inside a parked car can escalate rapidly, turning it into a deadly heat trap. Leaving pets unattended in cars, even with the windows cracked and even for a short period, can have fatal consequences and is against the law in California. If you need to run errands, leave your pets at home where they are safe and comfortable. Check out this video on how hot it gets in cars.
- Hydrate: Make sure your pets always have access to plenty of fresh, cold water.
- Avoid peak heat hours: Schedule outdoor activities and walks during cooler parts of the day, such as early mornings or evenings. Asphalt and concrete surfaces can become scorching hot and burn your pet's paw pads, so be mindful of the ground temperature before venturing out. Test the surface with your hand, and if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your pet.
- Avoid extreme heat: When temperatures get above the 90s, take your pet inside. For outdoor pets, be sure to provide them with plenty of fresh, cold water in a tip-proof water dish and shade for them to cool down.
- Use sunscreen: Pets get sunburned just like people, and if your pet has light skin or fur, they can be particularly susceptible to a painful burn and even skin cancer. Use sunscreen on sensitive areas, such as ears or nose, to make sure your pets are protected.
- Create a cool environment: Provide your pets with a cool and comfortable place to retreat from the heat. Keep them indoors, preferably in air-conditioned rooms. If air conditioning is not available, use fans or open windows to improve air circulation.
- Provide adequate shade: Make sure there is always access to shaded areas when pets are outdoors. Trees, canopies, umbrellas, or pet-specific shade structures can offer protection from direct sunlight and help keep them cool.
- Be your pet's lifeguard: While swimming can help pets get exercise without overheating, always supervise pets when swimming either in a pool or in waterways. Dogs can get tired swimming, particularly in rivers where they have to fight against currents. To avoid drowning, make sure they wear life jackets and keep them out of the water when flows are high.
- Watch for signs of heatstroke: Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heatstroke in pets, which can include excessive panting, drooling, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, lethargy, vomiting, and collapse. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cool area, apply cool (not cold) water to their body, and seek immediate veterinary attention.
For more tips on keeping pets safe in hot weather, visit the Hot Weather Pet Tips page
. For other animal issues and pet owner resources, visit the Bradshaw Animal Shelter website
Don't have a pet? Find a best friend to spend the summer with at Bradshaw Animal Shelter! To start the adoption process, visit the Adoptable Animals webpage
or visit the shelter Tuesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. The shelter is located at 3839 Bradshaw Rd. in Sacramento.
For a list of available animal care services, including walk-in licensing and how to report a lost or found pet, visit animalcare.saccounty.gov.