San Diego Heatwave: Keeping Pets Safe

July 24, 2018

The Paws Spot​
Traci Wilkerson Steckel, Traci's Paws

With an excessive heat warning in the forecast we are reminded that summer is upon us. Just like people, when animals live in an area with moderate temperatures, they are just not accustomed to extreme heat like what we’re experiencing in San Diego this week.

You can bet that if it’s hot for you, it’s even hotter for your pet.  It’s very important that you remain vigilant and watch for possible heat stroke in your pets and do everything you can to prevent overheating.

One of the first things you can do is ensure your pet’s shelter or space is safe, by creating an open area with adequate air flow and plenty of water.  If you normally keep your pets outside during the day try to bring them in, but do not put them in an enclosed room or garage unless there is air conditioning or plenty of air flow, just cracking a window will not suffice.

If your pets must shelter outside, make sure the space has plenty of air circulation and plenty of water. Try to create some shade without compromising the open space. Putting ice blocks in a kiddy pool may be a great idea for your large dogs to hop in and cool off throughout the day as well. Remember to never leave any pets unattended near a swimming pool because they may fall or jump in to cool off and find themselves unable to get out. 

Putting ice in your pet’s water and creating frozen treats are a great way for farm animals, cats, dogs, and small animals to stay cool. From ice trays to large Rubbermaid containers, freeze your pets treats in water to create a fun and cool treat for them during the day. In addition to staying cool, it is imperative to keep your pet hydrated, especially senior pets. A tip to help with this is to add water to your pet’s food just in case they’re not making enough trips to the water bowl.

If you normally exercise your pets before you leave for the day, it is best to either go extra early in the morning or wait until after work when it’s cooled down. Pets can overheat very quickly, and if you are in an area of San Diego County or the desert experiencing extra high temps earlier than usual, just skip it, don’t risk it. If you normally take your dog with you during the day, try to create a cool space at home and leave him there. Hot sidewalks and asphalt can burn and damage paws and getting out in the heat can just be too much for pets who are not used to this heat. Riding in the car might be too much when it is extremely hot outside. The time it takes to cool off some cars might be too long for your dog and leaving your dog in the car would be deadly.

This chart shows just how quickly the temperature inside a car can rise, even with the windows down. It is deadly for pets left in the car even on a semi-warm day, even for just a few minutes.

Despite this heat, as long as you keep a watchful eye and keep your pet cool, you can escape the heat wave with a happy and healthy pet. Remember, if you fear your pet may be overheating, you suspect burned paws, or you just need a professional opinion on keeping your pet safe, be sure to call your veterinarian for advice or to schedule an appointment.