Every day pets are exposed to various temperature levels from heat to cold, and while it is easy to forget, you really need to consider just how much your pets can be affected in extreme conditions. That’s where we come into play.
We are Pause4Paws, the voice for pets who cannot speak up for themselves. Pause4Paws is a group of sophomore Community Problem Solvers from Flagler Palm Coast High School, Florida. Community Problem Solvers (CmPS), is one of the four competitive components of Future Problem Solving Program, International (FPSPI). FPSPI is meant to stimulate critical and creative thinking skills, encourage students to develop a vision for the future, and to prepare students for leadership skills. In CmPS specifically, we identify real problems in the community, then create and implement real solutions. We all share a strong passion for pets. As Pause4Paws, our mission is to increase familiarity of the dangers associated with climate for household animals so that a healthy lifestyle for them isn’t compromised.
Because we live in Florida, our group knows all too well about how hot it can get. We are called the Sunshine State for a reason—our sunny weather and high temperatures. Occasionally, the heat can be too much for us, and it’s just too hot to stay outside. This does not just apply to humans, but also to our furry friends.
Regardless of where you live and what your weather conditions may be like, a pet still has the possibility of overheating in a matter of minutes. When left in extreme heat, a pet’s body temperature can reach 109 degrees, to the point where it can no longer cool itself to accommodate the heat, a term called hyperthermia. A heat stroke commonly follows elevated body temperatures. Upon reaching these conditions, the pet’s health may begin to take a dramatic turn towards organ failure, damage to the pet’s brain, heart, liver, nervous system, and in extreme cases, death.
By taking a few precautions before spending the day with your pet in the sun, you can decrease the likelihood of your pet from getting injured.
According to Dr. Alexis Bogosian, one of our local veterinarians, it is best to avoid the sun during its strongest period, which is around 10 am to 3 pm. Always check the ground before you walk your pet on concrete or pavement. On an 85 degree day, the ground can reach a whopping 135 degrees, that is more than enough to cook an egg in minutes! Leaving your pet to walk on the hot floors can leave them with second degree burns. Try and hold your hand on the ground for at least five seconds. If it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your pet’s paws!
Pets with short, thin and/or light colored hair should be kept away from direct sunlight as they are more susceptible to damaging UV rays. According to Dr. Terri Rosado, DVM or veterinary physician, from Flagler Integrative Veterinary, pets mainly get skin damage where there is little to no hair, such as their belly or noses.
There are pet-safe sunblocks available for pets who enjoy sunbathing or are at potential risk of sun damage. Dr. Jacklyn Mantz from Flagler Animal Hospital advises that when choosing sunblock for your pet, make sure that it is fragrance free and has UVA and UVB (SPF 15-30 in humans). Also, when selecting a sunscreen make sure it is specifically for dogs—pets may lick off the sunscreen which can cause toxicity issues.
When going on a trip with your dog, never leave them in your car for any periods of time. All it takes is ten minutes on a ninety-degree day for a car to heat up to 109 degrees. Even with the windows down, a car can still potentially reach up to 160 degrees. Just this year, more than twelve police dogs have died after being left in a hot car for an extended amount of time, which resulted in a felony.
Most importantly, always make sure that your pet has plenty of water throughout the day!
With winter approaching quickly, we can’t forget our friends in states that aren’t as sunny as Florida! While it may be enjoyable to play with your pet in the snow and cold, you need to know what actions to take to keep your pets warm.