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by Candi Phillips

At a recent community event, I noticed a family getting out of their SUV and putting their Jack Russell terrier in a dog carrier in the back. One of the children came into the building to fill a bowl with water. When the family came in for the 90-minute event I had to say something.  After some small talk about pets in general and their dog specifically, I expressed concern about the animal. The father said, “Well, we left the windows open.” I said, “It’s warm out, and the air inside the car can get much warmer. Your dog could suffer heat prostration from panting that hot air.”  Within a few moments he left and returned before the event began.  I presumed he took the dog home.

In my glove compartment I carry little notes, which I tuck into windshields of cars, which have animals left inside. In addition, I write to the editor of the local newspaper, reminding readers to leave pets at home and not alone in a parked car. Animal Haven, a low-kill shelter located in Merriam, Kansas, published the following “Hot Weather Pet Tips” last summer. This sensible information can easily be shared with those in your community:

  • “Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle. Your pet can overheat in minutes, even if the windows are slightly opened.
  • Don’t force your pet to exercise following a meal or in hot, humid weather. Exercise your pet in the morning before it gets too hot or in the evening when it is cooling down for the day.
  • In extremely hot weather, don’t leave your dog standing on pavement or asphalt. It may cause them to overheat quickly and/or cause injury to their paws.
  • Be alert to coolant leaking from your vehicle. Animals are attracted to its sweet taste and just a small amount can cause death.
  • Provide adequate shade and plenty of fresh water to outdoor pets.
  • Avoid walking pets in areas recently sprayed with insecticides or pesticides, as they may cause illness or even death.
  • A clean coat can help prevent summer skin conditions.
  • Ask your veterinarian about an effective flea and tick prevention.
  • Be sensitive to elderly or overweight pets, as they may fall victim to heatstroke more quickly than other animals.
  • Keep current license and identification on your pets. Fireworks and summer storms may frighten pets. Proper identification facilitates the reunion between pets and family!”

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