Keeping your pets cool in the heat

Tips for keeping your pet cool in the summer

Contact: Lisa Chase, (302) 943-6032, ext. 123,

The hot summer days of summer are upon us, and that means taking care of ourselves – and our pets. It is important for pet owners to ensure their animals’ comfort and wel-being in the heat of the summer; animals are especially at risk for heat stroke and other complications from the heat.

Lisa Strong Chase, Director of Development and Public Relations for the First State Animal Center and SPCA, urged pet owners to never leave their pet in a parked car – not even for a minute. “On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes,” she said. “After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. The pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.” She adds that keeping the engine running with the air conditioning on for a few moments is also dangerous for the animal, and harmful to the environment. Chase recommended that the pet be kept at home inside, or in an enclosed yard with shade and access to plenty of fresh, cool water. “As much as many dogs love to ride in the car with their owners, hot summer days are not appropriate for car rides around town, unless you are going to the veterinarian for a scheduled appointment,” she says.

 Chase said that bystanders can help a pet left in a hot car by doing the following:

1)    Take down the car's make, model and license-plate number.
2)        If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car's owner.
3)    If the owner can't be found, call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control and wait by the car for them to arrive. Delaware Animal Care and Control can be reached 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week at 698-3006, option 1.

Chase says that pet owners must also watch the humidity, not just the temperature. High humidity can cause serious problems for a pet. For instance, a dog’s temperature should never be above 104 degrees; if it is from being outside, try to lower the dog’s temperature by adding cool towels around the dog and call their veterinarian. It doesn’t take long for heart stroke to set in.

Limit exercise on hot days; go for walks in the early morning and at night when the temperatures are lower.

Cats, innately intelligent creatures, will find the coolest places in the house, such as the porcelain sink and tub. Keeping their coats clean and tangle free will also keep them cooler.

Provide ample shade and clear, cool water if the pet must remain outside.  (Cool, clear water is important for inside too.) Add ice to the pet’s water to keep it cool. A dog house, while it is important to have if the pet is outside, does not always provide ample protection from the heat – in fact, it can make the risk worse as it is an enclosed small structure with not much escape for hot air and not enough ventilation. The dog house structure must be in a shaded area if being used.  Also, dogs can get sunburned.

Let the dog lie in a dog or baby pool in cool water to keep body temperature down in scorching temperatures.

Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.

Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, and overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, bull dogs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

Chase recommends that if citizens find animals trapped inside cars or if they find pets languishing in the heat without appropriate shade and water, to please Delaware Animal Care and Control at (302) 698-3006, option 1, for guidance. She encouraged anyone who may know of situations involving animal cruelty or other animal neglect to contact DEACC at (302) 698-3006, option 1.

 Delaware Animal Care and Control is under the auspices of the First State Animal Center – SPCA. Delaware Animal Control is the enforcement agency for Title 3, Title 9 and Title 11 laws pertaining to animal welfare. Title 3 pertains to rabies control; Title 9 pertains to housing and dangerous dogs, and Title 11 pertains to animal cruelty.

 The mission of the First State Animal Center and SPCA is twofold: they protect animals from people, by prevention of cruelty and suffering, rescue of the trapped or injured, emergency medical treatment, temporary housing for homeless animals and the reduction of homeless pet overpopulation through targeted spay/neuter and education programs; and they protect people from animals through their commitment  in placing only stable, safe and well-adjusted animals into homes where they will thrive while simultaneously educating the public about responsible pet guardianship.

Free Male Cat Neuter Day

Obedience Classes coming in July