How to protect your pets in the summer heat

Barry Kukes poses with his dog Bentley.

I have written several columns about protecting your pets during the hot summer months, but this subject bears repeating.

Pet walking

Thanks to advances in cat harnesses, more and more cat owners are walking their cats, so I include cats along with dogs who are walked outside in summer heat.

The rule is if you cannot hold the back of your hand on the pavement (exposed to the sun) for at least seven seconds, then the pavement is too hot for your pet’s paws. Try walking your pet on grass, when possible, early in the morning before surfaces heat up, or at dusk when surfaces begin to cool down.

Some people use little booties to protect their pet’s paws, but some dogs and cats are not fans of booties. If you ride a bike and your pet runs alongside you as you ride, keep in mind the heat on their paws and consider they may suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke if exercising too much in extreme heat.

Always carry a bottle of water for your pet. Use your best judgment.

Pets and vehicles

Do not leave your pet in your car alone. That’s really the best statement that covers all situations. It doesn’t matter that it’s only 70 degrees outside because it could be over 100 degrees inside the vehicle. It doesn’t matter that you left the A/C running because it could stop for some unforeseen reason. It doesn’t matter that you left a window cracked open. Just never leave your pet in a vehicle unattended, and life will be much better for you and your pet.

While we are on the subject of vehicles, more specifically trucks with an open cargo bed, please don’t place your dog in your cargo bed while you are driving. I have seen dogs jump out of a moving truck and get hit by another vehicle. Not only did the animal suffer and most likely die, the unsuspecting driver minding their own business who hit the dog feels terrible.

If you love your pet, please treat it as if you do and don’t place your pet in harm’s way.

Pets and water

If your pet does not know how to swim, either teach it or keep it away from water deep enough to where the pet could drown. My Golden Lab Max does not understand the concept of fluid surfaces. He walked into a pool as if it is a solid surface and thus fell into the water headfirst. I was right there with him, so I helped him to the stairs, but that was the last time Max has been by open water.

On the reverse side, a Yellow Lab I had named Fiona should have been named Ester Williams. She loved to swim and knew exactly where the stairs were to get in and out of the pool.

Watch your pets by bodies of water

There are alligators in many small ponds and rivers. Snakes and other critters are present in rivers and ponds as well. If in the ocean with your dog at a legal dog park area, be aware of jellyfish, sharks, and other sea life that can injure your pet. Also, keep an eye on your pet in case of rip currents that can pull them under the water.

Some dogs will drink the saltwater and get very ill. Teaching a dog what water is acceptable to drink and what water is not can be a challenge, so give your dog plenty of bottled drinking water, so they stay hydrated and resist the urge to drink seawater.

Pets and playing

Some pets love to play and have no respect for the heat, so you need to reduce their playtime to prevent them from suffering from heatstroke and exhaustion. According to the ASPCA, signs of heat exhaustion are excessive panting, in- creased heart rate, confusion or disorientation, vomiting or diarrhea, bright red gums, body temperature higher than 104° F, collapse, seizure, or coma.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, do the following: Move the dog to a shaded and cool area, immediately pour cool (not cold to avoid shock) water over the dog, allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water, continue to pour cool water over the dog until their breathing starts to settle, but not too much that they start shivering. Transport your dog to an emergency veterinary clinic.

Keeping your pets safe should always be a priority, but especially during the hot Florida summer. Lastly, please adopt, don’t shop.

Barry Kukes is the community out- reach and marketing director of the Halifax Humane Society. He wrote this column for the Daytona Times. The Halifax Humane Society is located at 2364 LPGA Blvd., Daytona Beach. The website is

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