summer pet safetyWe’re in the middle of a glorious summer. But time moves so fast, and I’m in the middle of a lot of changes. I know I’ll blink and I’ll be writing about leaves changing or snow falling before I know it. Now, though, other than my new (and exciting) job and the new releases I’m preparing for, my mind is on summer fun. Bocce games, tennis matches, lounging by the pool or splashing in it. But we can’t forget about summer safety. Especially for our pets. In Type and Cross, the new novel I’m releasing this fall, one of the characters is an animal rights advocate. She would be the first one to remind us that animals need special care in the heat. So here are 5 tips for caring for our pets in the “dog days” of summer.

  1. Never leave a pet inside a car. Rolling down the windows and even leaving the air conditioner on has been proven to be of little benefit. Cars heat quickly due to the greenhouse effect. • On a 72 °F day, a car can reach 116 °F within an hour. • On a 80 °F day, a car can reach 99 °F within 10 minutes. • On an 85 °F day, a car can reach 102 °F within 10 minutes, 120 °F within 30 minutes. If you see a pet inside a car, contact the manager of the facility where the car is located and ask them to page the owner to the vehicle. If the owner can’t be found, take down the make, model, and license plate and contact the non-emergency number of local law enforcement for assistance.
  2. Watch the humidity. Animals are susceptible to heat stroke on highly humid days. They pant to cool themselves off. Panting evaporates moisture from their lungs, which in turn takes heat away from their bodies. But if the humidity is too high, they won’t be able to expel the moisture, and they won’t be able to get cool. Their temperatures can spike, quickly. If your pet gets heat stroke: •  Get him into the shade or an air-conditioned area • Put ice packs or cold towels on his head, neck, and chest or pour cool (not cold) water over him • Give him small amounts of cool water let him lick ice cubes • Most importantly, get him to a veterinarian
  3. Exercise prudently. We all love to play with our pets, but it can be dangerous in the heat. Here are some tips to make it safer for pets. • Try to limit outdoor activities to morning and evening, avoiding the hottest heat of the day. • Limit sun exposure for pets with white ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancers. • Monitor the breathing of pets with short snouts, who could experience trouble breathing, particularly in high humidity. • Try to stay in grassy areas or natural trails; asphalt and concrete can be too hot for paws. • Make sure to carry water with you; pets can get dehydrated much faster than usual in hot weather.
  4. Keep it Cool. There are plenty of ways to regulate the temperature for your pet so he’s as comfortable as possible. • While outside, try a tarp or natural shade. These alternatives are ideal because they don’t block the flow of air. Pet houses block wind and make heat worse. • Inside or out, make sure your pet has access to cool, fresh water. Add ice if it’s really hot out. • Don’t rely on a fan. They aren’t effective for pets. (Dogs, for example, sweat through their feet, and therefore respond differently to heat than people.) • In extreme heat, try a cool mat, vest, body wrap, or bath to cool your pet down. • Make peanut butter popsicles or other frozen snacks as cool treats for your pet to snack on.
  5.  Protect Pets from Insects A lot of people choose to forego their pet’s flea-and-tick medicine in the winter months. They assume that indoor pets won’t be bothered by those nuisances in the cold months. It certainly isn’t a course that I would recommend, but by all means, resume their dosages in the summer months. Insects abound in the summer. Don’t let your animals suffer just because they’re mostly indoor pets.

For Writers: We all spend a lot of time developing our characters. We write character bibles, we interview them to get to know them better, we agonize over dialogue and description. Do we do the same for their pets? My own dogs have personalities that, were I to write stories about them, would bring them to life as surely as a story about any person. And whether a character owns a pet or not… that alone says something about him or her. How that pet is treated speaks volumes. Spend some time working with the animals in your stories and their owners. Those little details can add layers of richness to your characters with very little work on your part. For Everyone: I hope you’re enjoying your summer. If you have pets, I hope they’re enjoying the summer, too. Do you have a summer/pet story to share? I’d love to hear it. Tips courtesy Humane Society.

9 Responses

  1. Good information in your post! I would add that you want to make sure you have plenty of WATER with you at all times for you AND your pet as dehydration happens so quickly and you want to make sure you are properly hydrated, to be able to make sure you can hydrate your pet. Since we are made up, mostly of water, we need to make sure we have plenty of it and our pets need us to be there to help them, when they need water too.

  2. Thanks for sharing these useful tips. Really many pet owners generally forget caring pets because of busy schedule and in summer special caring need to pets. Your all tips can use easily in busy schedule and we should always give time to pets.

  3. Thank you for your useful tips. Many of us forget the essentials in the summer for our pets. People get distracted in their own summer enjoyment and forget that these pets are our
    family. Keep them safe as you would your children. They will love you and thank you for it.

    • You are so right, Arnold. We consider our pets part of our family, but I think sometimes people do forget. I hope this post serves as a gentle reminder that they need us to take care of them, just as our children need us to take care of them. Pets’ needs aren’t difficult to meet, and they will love and thank us for it. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  4. Thanks Staci I agree we need to care for animals and even in winter I still treat my animals for ticks and fleas. I Have a cat that almost dies from a tick in my novel and my protagonist recognises the signs and saves the cat. Which intern is owned by an underworld figure and leads to very important connection in the story.
    The idea came to me after we found a cat suffering this way at my mums house and thought it would not survive the night. My mum told the neighbours and they took the cat, as its owners were away. We were surprised and happy it survived.

  5. My cats (and my dogs) have given me a lot of stories. In my WIP, I decided to bring a cat into the story. I agree, having a pet tells us something about the character’s demeanor.

    A note about leaving pets in the car. Yesterday, as John and I were preparing to leave town, we dropped the two cats at the kennel. Little one managed to work his way out of his carrier on the trip over. (He had outgrown it.) While I waited in the car with Tucker in the stronghold, John ran inside to see if we could temporarily borrow a carrier. I turned off the ignition, but within two-three minutes, it had already began to get stuffy inside the car. People don’t realize how quickly autos can heat up inside. Sadly, we hear stories of both pets and children dying after being left in locked cars.

    • You’re so right, Joan. It only takes moments for a car to heat up. Every summer we hear tragic horror stories about children who were left inside cars. We don’t often hear about the animals left inside, but it happens all the time. What’s the saying? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here’s hoping this post helps spread the word.

      And I hope your pets enjoy their vacation as much as you enjoy yours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.