DES MOINES — Forecasters say many Iowa cities will see high temperatures hit 100 degrees today and that heat will be tough on people — and pets.
K.C. Routos, director of development at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, says despite all of the warnings, some pet owners will still leave their animals locked in the car with a window cracked as they run an errand, which could quickly become a deadly mistake. “They think that’s going to be a quick trip into the store and suddenly it turns into a little bit longer,” Routos says. “We always want to caution people to err on the side of safety for the safety of their pet because when it’s over 70 degrees, it just takes a few minutes for that car to really warm up.”
If you’re in the parking lot and spot an animal inside a locked vehicle, Routos says to contact the police, especially if the animal is showing signs of heat stress. “You’re probably going to see them panting, but if they’re looking extra lethargic and their panting is extremely heavy, and maybe there’s some drooling happening, we definitely want to call 911,” Routos says. “At that point, it’s always better safe than sorry to just make the call and have someone come out and check it out. It could save a life and that goes for pets as well as kids, too.”
If you know you’ll be getting out of your vehicle for any period of time, she says it’s a much safer bet just to leave your pet at home when it’s this hot. On that topic, if your dog or cat is staying home in this heat, make certain they have access to water, and don’t leave them fenced in or chained up outdoors.
“The temperatures are going to be pretty extreme so we recommend everyone bringing their pets inside during this time, and making sure that they have access to that water as well,” Routos says. “If you do see something that you’re concerned about, we recommend calling it in. If you see something, say something, because it could save a life.”
Many dogs love to go on walks, but during a heat wave, it’s wise to limit their time outdoors, perhaps just to walks in the morning and evening when it’s cooler. Routos says to test the sidewalk before bringing Fido out on a leash. “If you put the back of your hand down on the sidewalk and if you cannot hold it there for five seconds or more, it’s probably too hot for your pet to walk on,” Routos says. “It could cause burning and blistering of your pet’s paws so if it’s too hot for you to hold your hand on, it’s too hot for them.” If your dog is spending a lot of time outside, she says to keep them out of direct sunlight or consider using a sunscreen for dogs. Also, certain animals are more sensitive to heat, especially short-nosed dogs and cats, and domestic rabbits. Find more tips at: arl-iowa.org/