Humans may be able to handle the heat, but it can be fatal for furry friends

DES MOINES — It’s the third straight day of a statewide extreme heat warning, and highs in the low hundreds are tough on people — and pets. At this stage, some folks may be getting used to the steamy weather, but it can still be deadly, quickly, to enclosed animals.

Joe Stafford, Director of Animal Services at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, says if you leave a pet in a parked car, cracking a window open does virtually no good, and neither does parking in the shade.

“Anything over 80 degrees, just leave your furry family members at home where they’re safe and they’re comfortable,” Stafford says. “Take them on a car ride to the dog park or something if we’re looking to go for a car ride but just do not leave animals unattended in a vehicle.”

In his 20-plus years in the industry, Stafford says he hears about such cases every summer and he’s confounded as to why some pet owners don’t ever seem to get the message.

“When your vehicle has been parked out in the sun, go get in your vehicle and try to sit in it for ten minutes,” Stafford says. “Most people will find that you’re immediately perspiring as your body is trying to keep itself cool. If you’re reacting that way, your animals are certainly going to react that way because most of them are wearing a fairly heavy fur coat.”

He urges Iowans, if you see a pet (or a child) alone in a car, call 911, as your action could save a life. Many dogs love to go on walks, but during this heat wave, it’s wise to limit their time outdoors, perhaps just to walks in the morning and evening when it’s cooler.

K.C. Routos, the ARL’s director of development, says to test the sidewalk before bringing your pooch 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. Click HERE for more information on summer pet safety.