With near triple-digit temps and fireworks on the way, pets may be in for a rough week.
With a little planning on the part of owners, local animal advocates said pets can make it through the heat and celebratory noise of Independence Day safe and sound.
The night of July 4 and the following day are traditionally the busiest for shelters as they bring in pets who likely escaped their yards during the commotion of fireworks, so advocates advised making sure pets are licensed and wearing tags, and microchipped if possible.
“Dogs kept outside might try to get away from the noise by digging or jumping out, even if they normally wouldn’t,” said Wendi Piscia, program administrator for the Napa Humane Society.
A dozen or more dogs are brought in over the holiday, versus the four or five that come in on a non-holiday, said Kristen Loomer, manager of the Napa County Animal Shelter. The shelter expects to receive between 50 and 75 calls regarding lost or found pets.
“We recommend people ensure all pets are kept safely indoors, with calming music on in the background,” Loomer said. “Fireworks can be terrifying so avoid setting them off near your home.”
For dogs that are particularly sensitive to noise, like those who get upset during thunderstorms, Piscia said owners could consult with their vet about getting a sedative to be given the night of the Fourth.
During the day this week, and whenever it’s hot, pet owners should proceed with extra caution even when doing regular day-to-day activities with their animals.
“When temperatures soar, pets can experience heat-related stress even during normal activity,” Loomer said. “Heat stroke and exhaustion can come on suddenly with activity like walking, running, hiking, fetching a ball — even playing with other dogs.”
Loomer said the pads of dogs’ and cats’ feet can burn while walking on hot asphalt and concrete. She advised owners to do a simple test before taking their dog for a walk.
“Pet owners should be mindful and test out the surfaces by placing a hand down for 3 to 4 seconds,” she said. “If it’s too hot for your skin, it’s too hot for their pads.”
Animals still need exercise even in the heat, so Piscia advised taking dogs on walks early in the morning or at night.
“It still may not be cool, but the sun won’t be beating down on them and the pavement won’t be hot,” she said.
During the day, animals should be kept indoors if possible, and those that must remain outside should have plenty of water and shade.
Some animals may require extra care if taken outside in the summer sun.
“Light pigmented pets, like white dogs with pink noses, are more prone to skin cancer,” Piscia said, advising that these pets may require sunscreen formulated for pets.
Both Loomer and Piscia said pets should be left at home while their owners run errands this time of year.
“It’s also imperative that animals are not left locked in vehicles where the temperature can exceed 120 degrees on an 85 degree day within just 30 minutes,” Loomer said. “This can result in the animal suffering heat stroke, brain damage, even death.”
Excessive, heavy panting and difficulty breathing, thickened saliva, vomiting, sweating from the pads of paws, loss of coordination and a body temperature over 104 degrees are signs that a pet may be overheated, at which point it should be taken to a vet, Loomer said. Older and young pets are more susceptible to heat-related illness, Piscia said.
On Sunday, authorities in St. Helena had to rescue a dog and a cat that were left in a vehicle while their owner allegedly went wine-tasting.
“Even a quick errand can put your pet’s health in jeopardy,” Piscia said.