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Care for Animals in Scorching Temps!


With temperatures still at record highs across the US, up to 115 F in some places, here are some hot weather tips from our CWI veterinarian, Dr. Niki, to protect animal companions and wildlife alike!


Animal companions: - Provide a fresh clean drinking source, available 24/7. Change the water 1-2x daily and clean the bowl/bucket frequently to prevent bacterial buildup. Placing various water bowls around the house may remind your animal friends to drink water more often.

- Avoid walking dogs on asphalt/cement as they can burn their paw pads; walk on grass if possible. Plan longer walks in the early morning or evening/night when the sun intensity is lessoned. Bring cold water for dogs on walks and offer it often.

- Be especially cautious with Brachycephalic animals like Persian/Himalayan/Burmese cats, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, English bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Boston terriers etc, are highly susceptible to heat stroke, as they cannot pant as effectively with their flattened skulls/faces and (usually) tiny stenotic nostrils.

- Elderly or overweight animals and those with heart murmurs, blood pressure problems, and lung disease should be carefully kept cool via fans, air-conditioning, and avoiding excessive exercise in warm weather.

- Never leave any animal in a car even on "warm" days, as it is illegal in many states and the temperatures inside the car (even with the windows cracked) can become life-threatening quickly at 120F!

- If you suspect heatstroke (signs include red gums, excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased pulse - easily felt on their inner thigh, weakness/stupor, collapse, seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, with body temperature at or above 104F for dogs/cats), bring them to a veterinarian right away. Ideally, call the clinic on your way to the clinic, so they can prepare for your arrival. Wet the animals' fur down with cool water and place them in front of the car's air conditioning en route.

- To improve cooling, especially for small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters etc, freeze a plastic water bottle and allow animals to lay next to it or freeze ceramic tiles for them to rest on, if they choose.

- If your dogs are out and about at family gatherings, avoid high fat table scraps that may cause pancreatitis or letting them close to grills, fire pits, or fireworks. Onions and garlic are toxic to animals. Corn cobs are a common cause of surgical emergency/gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs.

- Small frozen or chilled pieces of fruit such as bananas, apples (no seeds), blueberries, strawberries, and watermelon (no rind or seeds) are safe for dogs and cats. Just be sure pieces are not small enough to choke on and limit introducing new foods, particuarly if they have a sensitive stomach. You can even make a dog-friendly popsicle, using blended fruit, pumpkin puree, chopped parsley, cucumber, coconut milk or soy milk, carrots, kale etc for them to lick/chew in hot weather. Reach out to your vet if you have questions about what foods are safe.

NOTE: Grapes, raisins, and currants are highly TOXIC to dogs and cats (acute kidney failure) and can be fatal even in very small quantities!!

- Putting some of your animals' rubber toys (such as Kong, Goughnuts, Boomer Ball etc) in the fridge or freezer can be a fun way to mix things up, as well.

- Ask your veterinarian if your animal friends are up to date on any recommended preventatives/protective vaccinations for summer traveling. Ticks, fleas, mites, and mosquitos, which can cause serious disease in dogs, cats, horses etc, are out in full force!



- Provide multiple sources of shade in your yard, such as native shrubs, trees, shade-loving plants, woodpiles, and even rock piles for insects.

- Provide water bowls of varying heights/depths in different areas of the yard for insects, mammals, reptiles, amphibians +/- bird baths, ideally with small rocks to help animals if they become stuck in the water. Change the water daily to prevent bacteria and mosquito larvae.

- If you have a pool or pond, be sure to provide a small raft or ladder (homemade or commercially available) to prevent wildlife from drowning.

- Don't forget about hummingbirds and other pollinators who need nectar. Planting flowers native to your region is the #1 way to help. If needed, you can put out hummingbird feeders too - mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water (for example, 1 cup of sugar with 4 cups of water) and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Avoid buying the commercial product that contains red dye 40 and do NOT add red dye as it can be toxic to hummingbirds. The mixture should be changed every other day to prevent bacterial overgrowth.

- Bird houses, bat houses, wooden insect houses, and ceramic "toad houses" nestled in the bushes can provide a home and source of shade.

- Consider donating to charities that provide aid to animals in wildfire zones.

- If you find a wild animal that appears to be hurt, poisoned, orphaned, or sick, please carefully pick them up with a towel/thick gloves (if you feel comfortable doing so), place into a cardboard box with air holes in it or plastic 'pet crate', keep them in a cool/dark quiet place, and get them to a licensed wildlife rehabber (Google is your friend!) ASAP. Not all veterinary clinics are licensed to treat wildlife. Do not attempt to feed or water them unless instructed to do so, as it may cause aspiration pneumonia.


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