Summers are definitely the hardest season for animals. We believe, based on our experiences, that we lose more companion animals to the heat than we do to cold weather. We also believe that most of the deaths that occur in the summer are preventable.
During hot weather, our humane investigators have zero tolerance for the following situations:
Dogs chained outside with no shade provided. Never put a doghouse where it is not protected from direct sunlight. Outside dogs cannot find relief in a doghouse that is not shaded. At temperatures over 80 degrees, the danger of heat stroke increases significantly. If the dog is confined to a pen on concrete, reflected heat makes the temperature even higher. A doghouse that is not in shade becomes nothing but a hot box. A source of shade must be provided in order for your dog to be comfortable. A tarp over one corner of a dog lot may suffice; if the dog is chained outside of a lot, sometimes a piece of plywood leaned against the doghouse will provide needed relief from the direct sunlight. Actually, the definition of “adequate shelter” in the Virginia code requires animals to be kept free from the ill effects of direct sunlight. Dogs kept in outside lots or on chains with no shade provided are the ones that are most at risk from high temperatures.
Pets that do not have water. Never expect your pet to be without cool, fresh water. Fresh water must be provided at all times. Even inside pets drink more during hot weather. Continuous cool, fresh water is necessary for every pet; in fact, it is a legal requirement. Outside animals can become dehydrated very quickly. During the summer, I very seldom take a drink of cool water without thinking of the many dogs in this area whose throats are parched because they do not have water. It gets very tiring to hear, “Well, if the dog did not knock the bowl over, he could have water,” or “I gave him water yesterday,”
Animals left in parked cars. Never leave your dog or cat in a parked car during warm or hot weather. The buildup of heat inside a car can kill a pet very quickly. Dogs and cats do not sweat as we humans do. Their lungs are their main cooling system. With nothing but overheated air to breathe, your pet cannot live very long. Heat stress, heat stroke, and permanent brain damage are the consequences, if your pet does survive. With the outside temperature in the low 80s, the temperature inside a car – with windows slightly opened – will reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes. In 30 minutes, the inside temperature reaches 120 degrees. Humidity increases the danger. Cars parked in the shade or cars that have just had the air conditioning turned off are just as dangerous. It is kinder to leave pets at home in warm weather, beginning when the temperatures reach 60.
If you see a dog in an unattended parked car, please call us immediately. We will need the location, make and color of the car, and the license plate number. Then, go into the store and ask the manager to announce over their public address system that the owners need to return to their car. The confusing thing about this situation is that most people who take their animals, especially their dogs, with them to run errands are the people who give them much-needed attention. However, when the spring and summer seasons arrive, either leave your pets at home, or take along a human who can remain in the parked car with the engine running and the air conditioning on.
Outside dogs need to have their collars checked regularly. A tight collar can actually become embedded in the flesh and cause much damage.
Outside animals are easy targets of fly bites. Then, as the flies bite and the ears bleed, more flies are attracted. Owners who keep their dogs outside must by fly repellent made for animals.
Think about what makes you comfortable during the summer, and give your pets the same treatment. Please call us at 799-5306 or 799-0843 if you know of an animal that is not receiving the proper care. Summer can be a very difficult time for animals.