Keep an eye on your pets in this heat

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Here we are, still in the dog days of summer. If you’re not sweating out heat and humidity today, you’re likely to again before we slide into the cooler days of fall.

But what about our furry friends, our dogs and cats? Do they sweat the misery of hot, humid weather?

Actually, dogs and cats do sweat to cool off. And their fur acts as insulation.

But pets rely on us, “their people,” to behave like the “alpha animals” in their lives and protect them from the worst of summer.

“The American Red Cross focuses on the welfare of human beings, but we know how important pets are to people,” said Dr. Eve Schaming,  veterinarian at Sagamore Hills Animal Hospital in Summit County.  “That’s why we want to help folks prevent heat-related issues with their animals.”

Provide plenty of fresh water. To avoid pet heat exhaustion, make sure your pets have plenty of cool, fresh water and access to shade all day long.

Never leave your pet in the car. And no, cracking the window open or parking in the shade doesn’t count! The inside of a vehicle can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, which puts an animal in real danger.

And watch the humidity. Just like humans, our pets sweat or pant to cool off, but high humidity slows that process down.

The Red Cross offers these steps to treat heat stroke in dogs:

  • Get your animal out of direct heat.
  • Check for signs of shock, which include: collapse, body temperature of more than 104, bloody diarrhea or vomit, stupor, seizures or coma, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, salivation.
  • Take your dog’s temperature.
  • Spray your dog with cool water and then retake its temperature.
  • Put water-soaked towels on the dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen; turn on a fan an point it in the dog’s direction; rub isopropyl alcohol (70%) on the foot pads, but don’t use large quantities.
  • Take your dog to the nearest veterinarian. The effects of heat stroke may not show up right away.

Pay special attention to older animals and to dogs with shorter noses (like pugs, boxers and bulldogs). They’re at greater risk for heat stroke.

Protect your pet’s paws from hot surfaces. Walk your pet in the grass or the shade whenever possible. If the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws! If it needs to go outside on a hard surface to “do its business,” try wetting the surface with a hose or water bottle to help cool it off.

Don’t overdo outdoor exercise. Often, dogs don’t know when they need a break, so it’s up to us, “their people,” to stop for regular shaded breaks and offer water. Try to plan your walks, hikes or runs during the cooler times of day. (Better for you too!)

Whether it’s hot or not, check with your vet to see if your pets should be taking heartworm prevention medication. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can be fatal to both dogs and cats.

The Humane Society of the United States says fleas and ticks are another summer threat. Only use flea and tick treatments recommended by your vet; some over-the-counter product can be toxic, even when used according to directions.

You can have first aid advice for everyday pet emergencies at your fingertips by downloading the Red Cross Pet First Aid App from smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Pet owners can also access the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course on a desktop or tablet at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid. The 35-minute course covers:

  • How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so you can spot something that’s out of the ordinary;
  • Step-by-step instructions for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound or is having a seizure; and
  • Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being.

My neighbor’s dog, Nap, thanks you. And so does my son’s cat, Spike.

Tips for keeping your pets safe in the summer heat

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

July 9, 2020- During the hot summer months, we’re all looking for ways to keep cool and beat the heat. However, it isn’t just people who need to be safe during hot summer days—our pets need to stay cool as well. Heat and humidity can be dangerous for our pets, so the American Red Cross wants you to know it’s important to follow these tips to keep them safe on hot days.

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  • NEVER leave your pets in the car. This may seem obvious, but you want to make sure you are mindful of this before bringing your dog or pet with you along for a ride. Even just running into the store for 5-10 minutes can be dangerous. On a 75-degree day, temperatures can reach over 100 degrees in a vehicle within 30 minutes, even with a window cracked.
  • If you see a pet in a hot car, take action. Write down the make, model and license plate number of the vehicle and alert a manager in the business so they can assist with finding the owners. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police department through their non-emergency number to report the situation.
  • Be aware of hot surfaces your dog is walking on. If it’s too hot for your bare feet to walk on, it is too hot for your dog’s feet too. A dog’s feet pads need to be protected, since dogs sweat through their feet and their pads are sensitive.
  • Give your pet plenty of water. Give your pet plenty of fresh, clean, cool water to drink throughout the day. If you go on a walk, make sure to bring a water bottle and a collapsible pet bowl to help prevent your dog from dehydrating.
  • Find a shady spot. If your pets spend a lot of time outside, make sure they have a cool, shady place to keep cool. An area with good airflow, like a shady tree, will allow your pet to take a break from the sun to cool off.

Red Cross pet photo 2018

If your pet experiences heat stroke, make sure to act quickly. Read these six steps to take if you suspect your pet has heat stroke.

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For more tips on how you can keep your pets safe, or provide first aid to your beloved animal, download the Pet First Aid app from the American Red Cross. The app includes instructions for first aid emergencies and emergency preparedness plans for your pet and more. The Red Cross also offers a free, 35-minute First Aid online course focused on pet first aid and safety at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid.

Protect pets from “dog days” heat

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

August 9, 2019- Phew! We’ve survived the wave of heat and humidity that smothered Northeast Ohio in July. Like me, my pets are enjoying the cooler temperatures. But we know more heat is on the way. The “dog days” of summer are coming, and they aren’t called that because dogs enjoy them. How can we help pets survive life-threatening conditions caused by hot weather?

Cooperative Fetching

Photo credit: Ron Bracale

Keep in mind the natural elements that are essential for life:

WATER: Animals and birds need plenty of water, especially when it’s hot. Give them free access and refill bowls as needed. Clean the bowls each day and make sure the water is fresh. Some animals enjoy sitting or standing in a baby pool filled with water. You can stick your feet in and keep them company!

AIR: Fresh air is important for our pets. Try to give them time outdoors without putting them at risk of overheating. If they’re enjoying the air conditioning indoors, provide them the ability to move into or out of the blowing air. Birds, especially, need to be protected from drafts.

LIGHT: If you close your curtains during the day to keep your house cool, give pets a chance to absorb some sunlight now and then if they choose. Access to shade is crucial. My light colored, short-haired dog loves to lie in the sun for 10 or 20 minutes. My long-haired black dog only lies in the sun on cool days. Remember that dark colors amplify the heat!

Little Bit Pool

Photo credit: Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

EARTH: Your pets are walking on bare feet. If the pavement is too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for your pet’s. For those of you who walk your dogs along the beach, keep in mind how hot the sand is. The air coming off the lake may seem cool but the sand holds the sun’s heat even after it sets.

TEMPERATURE: Monitor the temperature of your pet’s environment, keeping in mind its specific needs. Reptiles need to stay warm. Mammals need a way to cool off when it gets too hot. If your hamster is in an aquarium, it’s going to get hotter more quickly than if it’s in a cage. Of course, NEVER leave any pet in a car during the summer! Car temperatures can reach over 120 degrees in just a few minutes.

What if your pet does overheat? The American Red Cross now offers online training in First Aid for Dogs and Cats at https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/first-aid/cat-dog-first-aid. Sign up now and be prepared!

keets on hand

Photo credit: Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

The Red Cross also offers a first aid app for pets. It provides instant access to expert guidance on how to maintain your pet’s health, what to do in emergencies and how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Stay safe this Fourth of July with these safety tips

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

July 3, 2019- With Fourth of July celebrations almost under way, the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross has some fireworks safety tips to make sure everyone stays safe this holiday.

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“Fourth of July is a great holiday for families to enjoy the summer weather but we want everyone to stay safe, especially when it comes to fireworks,” said Tim O’Toole, regional disaster officer for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “These safety tips will ensure that everyone can have an enjoyable and safe Independence Day, including pets.”

Attend a Public Fireworks Show

The safest way to enjoy fireworks this Fourth of July is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Make sure to stay at least 500 feet away from the show and leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

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If you or someone you know is setting off fireworks at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials, and make sure to light them a safe distance away.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Always have an adult supervise any fireworks activities, even sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Many communities in Northeast Ohio are hosting fireworks shows throughout the Fourth of July weekend. Click here for a full listing of shows in the area.

Pet Safety

Hurricane Florence 2018

July 5th is the busiest day at local animal shelters due to animals being scared by fireworks and running away. Here are some tips to keep your furry friends safe this Independence Day:

  • Keep your pets inside on the lowest level of your home.
  • Turn on a television or radio to help cover some the loud noises that may be outside.
  • Before fireworks and other festivities begin, get your pet to be active, such as going on a long hike. A pet that is mentally and physically exhausted is less likely to react to fireworks and other loud noises.
  • Provide your pet a distraction, such as a delicious treat or toys, to keep them occupied.
  • Comfort them. Sitting close to your pet, petting them gently and offering quiet words of reassurance during scary events like fireworks can help to center them and might even reduce their fearfulness.
  • Make sure your pet has access to a favorite and comforting area, such as a bedroom.
  • Try an anxiety vest. Much like swaddling helps to calm infants, a snug garment that puts gentle pressure on your pet’s torso can reduce fireworks anxiety. Get your furry  friend used to wearing a pressure wrap before fireworks so that by the time the event arrives, they will be comfortable with the garment.
  • Just in case your pet does escape, make sure your pet’s identification is up to date and that you have a current photo ready.

Fireworks aren’t the only things that pose a home fire risk – this video can help you avoid home fires due to cooking accidents:

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer