My Turn: Summer heat can kill | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Summer heat can kill

Stephanie Hiemstra

As the mercury continues to rise we are not the only ones who feel the heat. Our pets are at great risk for suffering from many of the same problems that humans do, including sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke. It is our responsibility as pet parents to keep them safe during the hot summer months.Many people know that it is a bad idea to leave a pet in a car when it is hot outside. However, a lot of people don’t know just how hot it can get even with the windows cracked and parking in the shade. According to the Humane Society of the United States, on a warm, sunny day windows collect light and can trap heat inside the vehicle and push the temperature inside to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. At 110 degrees, pets are in danger of heatstroke, which can be lethal. Of course, parking in the shade can help keep temperatures down momentarily, but as the sun shifts, so does the shade and your pet can be stuck with no way of cooling themselves down.Truckee is a great place for people and their pets to hang out together. You can’t go anywhere without seeing dogs co-piloting vehicles happily riding alongside their best friends. Cats are also spending a lot more time on the road especially as people travel to and from their second homes here in the Tahoe area. Because people are spending more time with their pets in vehicles, it is important to point out a few tips to help keep your pets cool. There are also some good tips for your pets at home during the summer months.• Always carry water for your pets – and plenty of it. If you are traveling with a dog, one gallon of cold water should always be on hand. For cats, less is needed but always have some so they can drink if they get thirsty.• Keep your cats inside all the time and your dogs inside during the extreme heat of the summer. • Be sure to provide plenty of shade and water for dogs who are outside during the heat of the day.• Be aware of how hot asphalt can get. Don’t make your pet stand on the asphalt which can burn the pads of their feet.• Use veterinarian-approved sun block on the areas of your pets body that are susceptible to sunburn. White animals are especially at risk.• Cats and dogs should be groomed often to reduce the amount of fur they carry and help keep them cool. However, don’t shave them too short or they won’t be protected from the sun.• Don’t leave your pet alone in a vehicle.• If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke, take her to a veterinarian immediately.Enjoy the rest of summer, and while traveling with your pet or even when you are at home please keep in mind our tips so they can keep their cool and enjoy the summer as much as we humans do.Stephanie Hiemstra is the executive director of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.