Memorial Day signaled the unofficial start of summer and the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) wants to remind everyone to think carefully about how the warm weather may impact their pets. Meteorologists are predicting a warmer than average summer so it's important to take extra precautions this year, whether taking a walk, going for a drive or just enjoying the backyard with your pet.
Be safe outdoors: While Fido may leap at the opportunity for a joy ride, leaving a pet alone in a parked car during warm weather can be deadly. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car, even with the windows cracked open, can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes, and after 30 minutes the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Even when the temperature outside is a balmy 72 degrees, the temperature inside your car can rocket to a fatal 116 degrees in less than an hour.
Keep in mind that exercising in the summer heat is just as uncomfortable for your dog as it is for you. Take your walks in the early mornings or late evening, not in the heat of midday, and remember that the hot pavement can seriously burn your dog's paws.
Keep your dog secure safely inside moving cars whenever you travel. Letting your dog travel with his head outside an open window is dangerous-flying particles and debris can cause eye damage, and some pets have actually fallen out of moving vehicles. Dogs should never ride unsecured in the back of pickup trucks, regardless of how fast you are moving.
Beware loud noises: Summer is a time of thunder, fireworks and loud music in the courthouse plaza. Loud noises tolerated by humans are painful to dogs. The frequencies dogs hear are twice as many as humans, and they can hear and distinguish sounds at four times the range of humans. For example, a sound you hear at 20 meters your dog can detect, pinpoint and interpret at 80 meters.
A dog's hearing is so sensitive that continued sharp or percussive noises can cause real suffering. Many people attribute a dog's pathological fear of thunderstorms or explosives to a bad experience as a puppy, when the real reason for his cringing is physical pain.
The days after a fireworks display or thunderstorm are the busiest at YHS because so many dogs escape from home and yards in reaction to these loud noises. Keep your pets indoors during these times and make sure they are microchipped so we can find you should they escape and find us.
Environmental hazards: Heartworms, ticks and fleas are more of a problem in warmer months and can cause serious health problems. Contact the YHS Wellness Clinic (771-0547) about products to help keep your pet healthy and parasite free.
Keep your feline friends safe and content indoors by providing them with cat grass, window perches, and other tools that bring the great outdoors inside. Or consider screening in a porch or outdoor patio where you can allow your kitty some safe outdoor time. Also, many cats can be easily trained to walk on a harness (never just use a collar and leash), allowing you both to enjoy leisure time in the yard.
Avoid using cocoa mulch, pesticides, fertilizers and other gardening products that pose hazards to pets, and encourage your neighbors to do the same.
Summertime is fire season. Remember, in an evacuation never leave your pets behind - if conditions aren't safe for you, they're not safe for your pets. Visit yavapaihumane.org/preparedness for tips on disaster preparedness.
Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.