By Grace Usher
This summer promises to produce some record high temperatures. People who have been in Lake Havasu City for a while know how to stay cool and safe.
People prepare themselves and the kids, but what about the fur babies? There are many common misconceptions when it comes to pets being self-sufficient in terms of sun and heat protection.
The first misconception is that dog’s thick-skin pads on their paws are impenetrable to heat.
“If you can’t put your foot down on the sidewalk or asphalt, then your pet can’t either,” said Leslie Pomenich, owner of Pet Boutique.
Don’t be deceived by thick paws. They are beneficial when walking on rough terrain but are no match to the hot ground surface of Havasu.
Leslie and husband Robert, recommend puppy shoes to keep paws safe. There are many different types of shoes and come in all sizes.
Other places to get puppy supplies for the summer include Pet Smart and Dorita’s Place.
The Pomeniches also recommend that owners keep their pet’s nails groomed for both hygiene and comfort.
Brandi Engler, of the Western Arizona Humane Society, also added a tip – freeze puppy shoes or keep them wet at all times. Though the shoes may protect against direct contact with the hot surfaces, the shoes themselves may become heated and cause damage.
When the paws are protected, it is time to look at a dog’s coat. Dog fur is designed to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The cooling traits of the fur keep harsh sun rays out while creating a ventilation system where their skin can breathe.
Long hair-breeds such as Shih Tzus and poodles should have their fur kept tidy to make sure their skin can breathe. Tangled and unruly fur can actually do the opposite and keep heat trapped causing premature dehydration and sores on the skin.
For light skin and short-hair breeds, the Pomeniches recommend getting dog sunscreen. This will help protect skin from burns. The sunscreen is also advised for all breeds to be rubbed on their noses. Dogs can contract skin cancer just like humans.
A cooling rag is recommended to be tied around a pet’s necks or rub along the fur. This will help keep them hydrated and cool.
Speaking of hydration, there is a rule of thumb for all breeds. Remember the 10:10 rule. Dogs should drink a minimum of 10 ounces of water per 10 pounds of weight per day. If your dog weighs 30 pounds, they need 30 ounces of water, etc.
Keep in mind that this is a minimum recommendation and pets should have access to plenty of water all day.
“Use alkalized, pH balanced water for full hydration” said Leslie Pomenich.
When running errands with the knowledge that your pet can’t come inside the store, leave them at home. It is now legal for bystanders to break windows to vehicles with babies and dogs inside.
According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association, on a day at 95 degrees, it takes only 10 minutes for the inside of a vehicle to reach temperatures of 114 degrees. Even with the windows cracked, pets can be susceptible to heat strokes or worse. Don’t leave pets in cars even for just a moment.
“[Someone who sees a pet in a car] is first supposed to try to contact the owner. Then they are supposed to call the police department or animal control. If the dog looks like they are in distress or something bad is about to happen, then they can break the window,” added Engler.
All of these tips are great for adventures, but what about the pets that stay home during the day?
Many owners choose to keep pets inside during the day; however, because of pet behavior or condition of the dwelling, some owners choose to keep them outside.
When keeping a pet outside, Engler recommends to have a kid-sized pool filled with water in a shaded area. She also said to change the water at least twice a week to avoid algae that can cause digestion issues and rashes. To keep pets extra cool, some owners add blocks of ice to the water.
On determining a shaded area, consider the fact that shade moves throughout the day with the rotation of the sun. observe potential spots for the pool at different times of the day to make sure the shade has optimal coverage. Also consider adding shade cloths over the patio area as well.
For protection from concrete and rocks, Engler advises the use of area rugs and outdoor rugs.
Unfortunately, the Western Arizona Humane Society says that summer boasts the highest number of animal intakes for the year.
“Animals are in pretty bad shape due to the heat” added Engler.
Keep pets safe this summer both at home and on the next adventure and never underestimate the power of the sun.