EDINBURG – These hot, humid and sunny summer days can cause pets to overheat.
Katrina Keywood, an animal caretaker at the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter in Edinburg, is reminding pet owners to take fresh water for their pets to drink when they’re outside playing or on a walk.
“[The pets] overheat,” Keywood said. “Animals don’t sweat like people do, so they hold in the heat.”
Pets, she said, need access to shade as well as a shelter when thunderstorms roll through the area.
When taking a dog for a walk, she advises checking to see if the pavement is cool enough for dog paws.
“Touch the pavement with the back of your hand to make sure it’s cool because their paw pads are like their bare feet,” she said. “It’s like humans walking across the pavement in their bare feet. If you touch the pavement with the back of your hand and you can’t keep it there for three to five seconds, it’s too hot for your animal to walk on.”
Keywood recommends that pet owners walk their dogs early in the morning or late at night to avoid the afternoon heat. She also recommends not taking animals on trips when it’s hot.
“If you have to take your pet with you, make sure you have the ability to leave your car running so that the air conditioning can stay on,” Keywood said. “If the outside temperature is 80, it only takes around 10 minutes to reach over 100 degrees, and just cracking the window open a little bit doesn’t give them enough fresh air to suffice. It gets really hot really fast.”
According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization, there have been 17 cases of heat-related deaths reported in the United States so far in 2019, with six of the incidents involving animals left in the car. There were 58 heat-related deaths in 2018. Most of the cases involved dogs.
“If you wouldn’t leave your kid in the hot car, you shouldn’t leave your pet in the hot car,” Keywood said.
While dogs are often the main focus when it comes to safety from the heat, cats are often forgotten about. Keywood said she thinks it’s because dogs are tied up, so they can’t move to get into the shade if they don’t have it.
“Cats are kind of free-roaming and they have the ability to get out of the elements if needed,” she said. “Dogs, if they’re tethered, don’t have that option.”