High temperatures and hot cars are dangerous for your Vail Valley Pet

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High temperatures and hot cars are dangerous for your Vail Valley Pet

It’s that time of year again – summertime!  Boating, hiking, outdoor concerts, kids outside from dawn until dusk – what an amazing time of year in our valley!  With the increased temperatures outside and all of our increased sun exposure, it puts all of us, including our pets, at risk for heat-associated injuries and dangers.  From heat stroke to sun burn, our animals can suffer from the same things as we do in the warmer weather.  Be sure you know how to prevent these things and what to do if they happen!

We all know that feeling of getting into our hot car after it’s been baking in the sun all day – that sweaty, tight in the chest feeling while you wait for you’re A/C to kick in is horrible!  Can you imagine how your dog or cat must feel with a heavy fur coat on top of all that?  In addition, our animals don’t sweat in the same way we do – this is all a recipe for disaster!  DOGS DIE IN HOT CARS.  They do, however, it’s avoidable!  How do we prevent this from happening?  First, leave your dog (or cat or lizard) at home, make some alternative plans other than to bring them with you and leave them in the car.  Many of the cases of heat stroke that I have seen in animals have been entirely preventable. 

Now, what do you do if you see a dog trapped in a hot car?  Gently and efficiently find the owner of the animal and see if they will get the dog out.  If you cannot find the owner, calling the police would be my next recommendation so that they can get into the car (legally).  I would save smashing a window only for desperate cases where you have adequate legal council available in case the incident goes south. 

When you get the dog out of the scalding hot vehicle, what in heaven’s name do you do next?  First step: get the animal cooled down – cold water is the best way to do this.  Get them into the shade then soak them and put a fan on them.  If they can drink, allow then to drink cool water slowly.  However, in order to drink they must be able to hold their head up and not vomit – it’s not the best idea to force fluids down their throats.  Lastly, get them to an emergency veterinarian.  The faster that the animal is cooled off and the sooner they get medical attention from a veterinarian, the more likely they are to recover. 

Now that we’ve covered that subject, let’s move onto the next – “Can my dog wear sunscreen?”.  Yes!  Pets with light skin and short and/or thin hair are all prone to sunburn, skin cancer and other sun-induced skin diseases.  In addition, pets who have suffered from hair loss from allergies or surgery would also benefit from sunscreen.  Sunburn in pets usually looks like reddened skin or hair loss.  In cats, we see sunburn on their ear tips and face.  Even the skin in the groin, inside the legs and on the abdomen can get sunburnt due to the sun reflecting off of the concrete. 

When selecting sunscreen, use one that is non-staining, fragrance free and one that contains UVA and UVB barriers (SPF 15-SPF 30).  If you intend to use a sunscreen on a cat, be sure it is labeled safe for cats – they are meticulous groomers and will likely lick it.  In all animals, only use zinc-containing products in areas that they won’t lick.  Avoid sunscreens that have ingestion warnings because they can be toxic if licked by your pet. 

I hope these recommendations help give you all piece of mind with your pets in the warm weather.  If you have any questions, be sure to contact your veterinarian as they are the best resource for any and all pet questions.  Have a great summer everyone!

We look forward to seeing you!