Keep your pet safe during the dog days of summer

Debby Turner, proprietor of Turners of Little Current holds the sign that usually sits in her storefront window to educate pet owners on the dangers of leaving animals in a vehicle during hot summer days. photo by Michael Erskine

STOUFFVILLE—As temperatures soar, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society is urging pet owners to take extra precautions to keep their furry friends cool and safe, a message heartily endorsed by at least one Island merchant who keeps a steady supply of fresh water in dishes outside the family store in Little Current.

“I got the idea when I was visiting a small tourist town in Michigan,” said Debby Turner, proprietor of Turners of Little Current. “Besides, I am a dog lover myself so it is something near and dear to my heart as well. We keep treats for dogs inside the store as well.”

Ms. Turner said that she was amazed at the number of people who leave their pets in an enclosed vehicle during the height of the summer heat.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand just how quickly an animal can be in distress in this heat,” she said. Ms. Turner’s storefront boasts a sign that attempts to educate pet owners on the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot vehicle. “A lot of people don’t realize you can be charged by the police if they come across your pet left in a hot vehicle—but more importantly your pet can be badly injured or killed by the heat. It doesn’t take that long.”

“If you can’t take your pet with you when you leave your car, leave them at home where they are safe,” suggests Jennifer Bluhm, acting chief of Animal Protection, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society in a release warning people of the dangers of leaving pets in vehicles during the summer.

The issue of owners leaving their pets in their vehicles during the hot summer months, putting animals’ safety at risk, is an ongoing problem across Ontario. Parked cars can quickly reach deadly temperatures, even on relatively mild days with the car parked in the shade and the windows slightly open.

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society have a list of several dos and donts when it comes to hot weather and pets. First and foremost is don’t leave your pet alone in a vehicle, even in the shade with the windows slightly down. 

Make sure your pet always has access to fresh water and a cool, sheltered place out of direct sunlight to avoid heat stroke.

Pets should only be left outdoors for short periods, should have sufficient water and a cool, sheltered place out of direct sun.

But don’t leave pets outside for too long. If possible, avoid going outside when temperatures are at their highest.

“Use caution when exercising or playing with your pet during heat waves to prevent heat exhaustion,” said Ms. Bluhm. “We recommend going for walks in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.”

Know whether your pet is more susceptible to heat exposure.

Certain types of dogs, such as Northern breeds or short-muzzled dogs, can have a more difficult time in the heat. Pets that are older, overweight, taking certain medications or with certain medical conditions, are also more susceptible to heat exposure.

A number of other downtown businesses in communities across the Island have taken to putting out water dishes, including The Manitoulin Expositor and the Little Current United Church. A concerted effort by Island animal supporters has seen most of the grocery stores on the Island putting signs in their parking lots to warn of the dangers of animals left in cars as well.

You can also take action, noted Ms. Blum, by spreading the word on social media about hot weather pet safety using the #NoHotPets hashtag.

If you observe an animal suffering in the heat, call 1-833-9ANIMAL (1-833-926-4625).

For more tips to keep pets cool, visit Nohotpets.ca.