Animal Chronicles: Summertime pet tips

Dog on ramp

Four-year-old Nitro is just one of the summer-loving dogs available for adoption at the Animal Protective Foundation.

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ANIMAL CHRONICLES – I recently watched our friend Steve Caporizzo, chief meteorologist at WTEN Channel 10, and it seems like Mother Nature is welcoming the unofficial start of summer with some much warmer weather.

While it’s refreshing to leave the frosty temperatures behind us for several months, the rising temperatures require pet guardians to take sensible precautions to ensure that their pets stay cool and safe.

One of the most common concerns during hot days is leaving pets in cars. A study published in the journal Pediatrics revealed that even on a mild day of 70 degrees, temperatures inside a car can quickly soar to 115. It’s important to note that in New York state it is illegal to leave your companion animal in a car during extreme heat. If you come across a dog or cat in a hot car promptly call 911, as first responders are the only ones authorized to rescue an animal from a vehicle in New York.

Here are some additional tips to help your pets stay safe and comfortable during warmer weather:

– Protect their paws: If the pavement is too hot for bare feet or to comfortably hold your hand on for 10 seconds, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. Opt for grassy areas instead.

– Exercise during cooler times: In warm weather it’s best to walk your dog early in the morning or late at night. Avoid jogging or cycling with your pet, as it can be dangerous for them.

– Be cautious with brachycephalic breeds: If you have a flat-faced dog breed such as pugs, bulldogs, boxers or Pekinese, or cats like Persians or Himalayans, be extra careful on hot days. These breeds have a harder time cooling themselves in hot weather.

– Provide fresh water: Pets lose moisture much faster than humans, so be sure they always have access to cool, fresh water.

– Avoid grooming short: While a trim is fine, remember that a shaggy coat can actually insulate your dog against the heat. Shaving their coat too short can make them hotter and even lead to sunburn.

– Watch your pets at barbecues: Keep them away from the grill and avoid access to poisonous foods, including alcoholic beverages, raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with artificial sweeteners.

– Protect against fleas and ticks: These parasites become more active in warmer weather. Use monthly preventives to keep your dogs, cats and home free of fleas.

Additionally, be vigilant in recognizing signs of heat stress, which may include excessive panting, increased salivation, glassy eyes, frantic behavior, pale gums, lethargy, dark purple tongue and dry mucous membranes.

“Heat stroke can happen to any pet,” says Dr. Jackie Kucskar, veterinary medical director at the Animal Protective Foundation. “Especially those with increased risk factors such as brachycephalic breeds, animals with preexisting breathing problems and elderly pets.

“If you suspect overheating, place towels soaked in slightly cool water on the pet, focusing on the limbs, belly, top of the head and neck,” advises Kucskar. “Avoid using ice or very cold water, as that can worsen heat stroke. Immediately seek advice from a veterinarian, as untreated heat stroke can quickly lead to organ damage, coma, cardiac arrest or even death.”

All of us at APF wish you and your pets a safe and enjoyable summer.

Joe Lisella is executive director of the Animal Protective Foundation. APF contributes Animal Chronicles articles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about the people and animals in our community. Visit, follow us on social media @AnimalProtectiveFoundation or email [email protected].

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