When I was eight years old and my older brother was twelve, we had a pet parakeet. He was green and yellow colored with stripes on his wings. His name was Bertram Edgar. Bertram Edgar Budgie. He was pretty tame and well natured as far as birds go; content to sit in his cage on his perch most of the time, chewing his birdseed and cuttlebone and looking at himself in the mirror. Sometimes my brother and I would take him out of the cage and let him perch on our fingers. Once in awhile we would toss him up in the air and he would fly back and forth around the room a few times before coming back and landing on one of our outstretched hands. At times we thought that this was so cool that we had a tendency to overdo it a bit. Bertram would get a little over heated and we knew to stop when he flew up to perch on the curtain rod by the front window where he would lift his wings out to the side and breath with his mouth open. I guess those feathers can get a little hot in the summertime. Maybe Bertram was a little out of shape from being cooped up in his birdcage most of the time, but he did seem to appreciate being able to get out and stretch his wings.
This year, because of the seemingly endless heat wave that we find ourselves in here in St. Louis, the Humane Society of Missouri has issued an alert to pet owners to take extra steps to protect their animals from the heat this summer. We’ve all heard that dogs, unlike humans don’t have many sweat glands to help keep them cool. One of the things that happen year after year despite the warnings is not to leave your pets inside of a parked car. Even with the windows rolled down, the inside of a car can heat up to 102- 120 degrees within a matter of about ten minutes. Even a short trip to the store or the bank can be long enough to send your pet into heat stroke. Some of the warning signs are: excessive panting, warm nose, nausea, dizziness, and a dark red tongue. If you notice any of these symptoms, try to cool the animal down immediately by wrapping it in a cool blanket or pouring cool water over it. Cool, not cold. It’s a good idea to follow up with a visit to the vet, especially if the symptoms don’t seem to improve.
Cats are a little less susceptible to overheating than dogs because they generally try to stay in the shade when it gets warm. Cats will also seek out cool places to lie on like a porcelain tub or ceramic tile. What are some of the ways that you can keep your pet cool in the summer?
Rule # 1 is to always ensure that your pets have an adequate supply of cool, fresh water. Distilled water works best because it doesn’t have as much potential for bacterial growth, but no matter what you use, make sure that it is changed out regularly. Also, use a plastic or ceramic bowl, as metal bowls heat up quickly, especially outside. Bring your pet inside during the hottest part of the day, and when it is outside, make sure it can get to plenty of shade. Don’t leave a dog unattended near a swimming pool or ride in the back of a pick-up truck. You may turn the air conditioner thermostat up when you go to work, but be sure to leave it on. Remember, if it’s really uncomfortable for you, it’s just as bad for your pet.
Thanks to better education and the growing use of pet sitting agencies when owners have to be gone from their homes, the number of heat-related pet deaths in the summer is decreasing and with a little extra care, you can make sure that your pet doesn’t fall victim to summer’s sweltering heat.