Golden Retriever drinking water

Living With Animals: Summertime Blues

Summer has just begun but weather doesn’t pay close attention to the calendar, especially not here in the Bay Area. Let’s talk hot weather and pets! Prior to coming to PHS/SPCA I spent 7 years at Arizona Humane Society, so when I hear people complain about the heat I do tend to snicker. Not, however, when it comes to how hot it is – and how potentially dangerous it is – for pets in the wrong place in our fairly temperate summer. While we do have 100 degree days now and then, the average summer highs of 70-ish is actually plenty hot enough to cause real problems. The temperature inside a car parked outside on a 70 degree day can reach approximately 90 degrees in ten minutes, and can climb to 105 within half an hour. Hot enough to kill. And, of course, Bay Area Summer means Tahoe vacations where the weather can get considerably toastier.

Pets left outside are at even greater risk of serious summertime suffering. Water left standing in bowls can become undrinkably hot, and concrete patios and pavers hot enough to singe. I’ve seen dogs scalded by water “cooked” in a hose when the owner tries to cool down a dog by garden hose shower. And our recent unusually wet winter not only produced a wonderful abundance of spring wildflowers but also a killer crop of foxtail weeds. The barbed and razor sharp “awns” (the stiff bristle attached to the seed) become especially dangerous after a bit of warm, dry weather. Designed to burrow into the dirt as part of this weed’s life-cycle, the awn is equally effective at digging into a cat’s or dog’s ears, between the toes, up the nostrils requiring surgery to remove. 

Oh, and just to add a bit more, summer heat is also a great time for fleas and other parasites to reproduce, as well as for our larger wildlife (raccoons, coyotes) to be out exploring. Bottom line: if it’s too hot for you to lie around naked outside on the concrete, drinking water left standing for hours in a bowl, it’s also too hot for your pet. 

Hope Bidegainberry

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