5 Ways to Keep Pets and Animals Safe During the Heat Wave

Okay, so it's going to be mind-numbingly hot this weekend through much of the state. And you already know not to leave your pet in the car, even for "just a minute." (You do, right? Because leaving your pet for even a few minutes in a car in warm weather in the shade can lead to tragedy?)

But even when you leave your furry loved ones at home, hot weather like we're going to get this weekend can put them in danger. And that's avoidable if you take a few easy precautions.

Precaution 1: Adequate shelter. If you can't bring your beast inside -- what, your housemates don't like the horse in the living room? -- then provide shade and shelter in some other fashion. To be effective, that shade should be reliable. Keep in mind that shade moves as the sun does: that dappled spot beneath the tree may be in direct sun in an hour. Ventilation is key: a barn or shed might actually get hotter than the unshaded ground outside it. Make sure your animal has access to plenty of cool water an can move as freely as possible to pick the most comfortable spot.

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Precaution 2: Bring them inside if you can. Nothing beats the heat like air conditioning, if you've got it, or access to a cool basement or tile floor. If you have to leave your pets for the day, make sure the AC is left on to keep the place at least minimally cool, and cover south-facing windows with heavy curtains.

Precaution 3: Hydration. A reliable supply of water is crucial, as heat illness in pets and dehydration are closelly linked, just like in humans. A reservoir-based water source is a great investment or barring that, you might just decide to leave the toilet lid up.

Precaution 4: Take other steps to make your pets comfy. Take that walk after the sun goes down and things cool off, lest you put your pet in danger out of their loyal desire to accompany you on your walk. (That goes triple for running.) When you do go out, bring drinking water and a bowl for your pooch. Consider getting long-haired pets trimmed, or at least brush them out well to reduce their insulation. A morning bath will help keep dogs and cats (if you dare) cool for the rest of the day.

Precaution 5: You did get the part about not leaving them in the car, correct?

About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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