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Pet Talk: Hot Cars Kill

The weather is finally getting nice here in Door County. With the warmer weather dog owners enjoy getting their canine companions out for more walks and playtime.

On hot days there are things you should do to protect your dog.

First, gradually acclimate your dog to the changing weather by being out for only short periods of time. The first few weeks of warmer temperatures can be the most difficult for our pets because they have not been exposed to the heat in quite some time. Dog owners of flat-faced dogs, such as pugs and bulldogs, should be extremely careful because these breeds have trouble panting and overheat more easily.

Dogs should be walked or exercised early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the midday heat when the temperature starts to soar. Carry water and take frequent breaks. Never exercise dogs by jogging or cycling and making them keep up with you in warm weather. Dogs will run to a point of collapse just to please you.

Try to walk your dog on grass and avoid hot asphalt, sidewalks and sand, which can seriously burn your dog’s pads. Pet owners are wearing shoes and don’t often think how hot the ground is when walking their dogs. Always test the surface on warm days by placing the back of your hand on it. If you cannot hold it there for five seconds, it is too hot for your canine to walk on.

Never leave a dog outside without adequate shade and plenty of water. Put ice cubes in the water bowl and keep it out of the sun.

Don’t think your dog won’t be affected by the heat because they are in the house. Homes can become very hot during the summer, especially if you have a lot of windows or the home faces south. Ensure your pet is kept cool with air conditioning or a fan and make sure they have access to water all day.

Not all dogs are good swimmers so do not leave them unsupervised around pools. Introduce your pet to water gradually and make sure pets wear flotation devices while on boats.

I can never say it enough, “hot cars kill.” If more people knew the danger of leaving their dog in a parked car, they probably wouldn’t do it. It is actually very cruel to leave your pet in a car on a warm day. It’s like being baked alive.

Even on a mild 72 degree day, a car parked in the shade can quickly reach a scorching 120 degrees. Cracking a window, leaving water and parking in the shade will not prevent your dog from overheating.

Heat stroke can happen in just 15 minutes and cause irreversible organ damage and fatalities. Play it safe and leave your dog home on warm days. They depend on us to keep them out of harm’s way.

Sally Salopek is the owner and operator of Attend-A-Pet pet sitting services in northern Door County. She has also worked professionally with animals in health care, pet grooming, training, wildlife rehab and rescue. Send your pet-related questions to her at [email protected]

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