Keeping your pet safe this summer

High heat and summer activities can be dangerous for our pets. Be sure to protect your pets with these simple tips.

• Don’t run errands with your pets.

When it is hot out, it is not safe for pets to be brought along in the car if the car will be turned off. Studies have shown that even when parked in the shade, even with a sun screen and with windows cracked, the temperature in a car on a hot day goes from hot to deadly in just a few minutes. Even if you are just running in to a store, your pet is at risk of heat stroke and death from a hot car. During the summer, but especially during excessive heat warnings, it is best to leave pets at home.

When it is 70 degrees outside, a car can reach 89 degrees in 10 minutes and 104 degrees in 30 minutes or less. If you witness a pet in a car in the heat, you can help advocate for that pet. If you are at a store, go into the store and page for the owner to return to their car. If the owner can’t be found, call 911 and report the incident – all calls to Animal Control in Kitsap County are dispatched through 911.

• Limit exercise and exertion.

Many dogs may have little self-control when it comes to playing fetch. Dogs are also eager to please, and will try to keep up on hikes and runs, even in the heat of summer. As the pet’s guardian, it is up to you to make sure your dog isn’t overdoing it. During excessive heat warnings, exercise and exertion should be kept to a minimum, as your dog can easily overheat. If you do plan to do extended walks or hikes with your dog during the heat, plan for early morning, and make sure to have plenty of access to drinkable water and shade. If your dog is having difficulty breathing, panting heavily, glazed eyes, excessive salivation, a temperature that exceeds 104 degrees, a rapid heartbeat, lethargy or lack of coordination, treat your dog for heatstroke immediately. Move your dog immediately to the shade or an air-conditioned area and then get them immediately to a veterinarian.

• Not all dogs are natural swimmers.

Before taking your dog to the beach or near any rivers, test their swimming abilities by easing them into the water while they are still on their leash. Enter the water with them and make the swimming lesson a fun and stress-free experience.

No matter if your dog is a strong swimmer or not, keep dogs away from fishing materials and beach debris, never allow your dog to be in water unsupervised, keep a fence around your pool, get your dog a lifejacket (you will keep them safe and they will look snazzy!) for boating trips, and make sure to rinse your dog off after they have gone in the water (chlorine, seawater and certain algae’s can irritate your dog’s skin).

Most importantly, be aware of currents and keep your dog on a leash. At least several times a year, there are cases in Kitsap County where a dog is pulled out into the Sound by currents.

• Watch out for paws.

The bottoms of our pets’ feet are VERY sensitive. Before taking your dog for a walk on pavement, or allowing your cat out on a paved patio or porch, touch the pavement and keep your hand on the surface for 30 seconds. If the heat of the concrete is uncomfortable for you to touch, it will be too uncomfortable for your pet. During the hottest part of the day, and during excessive heat warnings, avoid walking your dog on the road or sidewalk- opt for grass or other naturally cooler surfaces. Exposure to hot surfaces can cause blistering, burns, and lameness that require veterinary care.

• Protect outdoor pets, too.

Outdoor pets, like some cats, dogs, and outdoor animals like livestock, need extra care and attention during summer heat. Water evaporates in excessive heat, and your animals may be thirstier than usual. Make sure there is constant access to clean drinking water for any outdoor pets. During the hot summer months, grass dies. If you have grazing animals like cows, horses, goats or llamas, this could lead to them running out of available grazing grass. Make sure your animals have plenty of access to food when grazing becomes difficult. Meat-based foods for cats and dogs spoil quickly in hot weather, so food should be placed in the shade, and fed in multiple smaller quantities (instead of just one big meal). Lastly, all animals outdoors should have access to shade. Make sure there is someplace cool and shaded for your pets to retreat to during the hottest parts of the day.

The Kitsap Humane Society is a nonprofit animal welfare organization which operates a shelter in Silverdale. Denise Caruso is marketing director for the society. For more go to