Summer & Winter Care

Dogs die in hot cars

Summer Heat

So, you’re feeling the heat? Take a moment to imagine how your pet might be feeling during these long hot days of summer.

While your pet may love to jump in the car with you, on a warm day that car ride may cost their life.  Every summer, the Humane Society receives many calls about dogs left unattended in parked cars, or left outside in extreme heat.

On a hot summer day the inside of your car heats very quickly. Even on relatively mild days, with the car parked in the shade and the windows slightly open, temperatures inside the car can rapidly reach well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees F) in only 10 minutes. In 30 minutes it will go up to 49 degrees. On hotter days, it will go even higher.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 39 degrees C (102 F). A dog can withstand a body temperature of 41 degrees for only a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage or even death.

Pets left outdoors during hot summer days are also in danger. On hot days, walk your dog in the early morning or evening when it is cooler. Ideally, dogs should be kept indoors and have only short periods of time outside. When outdoors, they should have cool water available at all times and a cool sheltered place where they can get away from direct sunlight.

If you suspect heat stroke, contact your veterinarian immediately and try to cool your pet down as soon as possible. You can move the pet to a shady or air conditioned area; and apply cool (not cold) water or wet towels to your pet to lower their body temperatures.  Get them to a veterinarian as quickly as possible

Cold cats photo

Winter cold

Winter weather can be dangerous for pets, and that pet owners are responsible for ensuring the protection and care of their animals.

  • When the temperature drops below freezing pets should not be left outside for extended periods of time. Cats, or short-coated dogs and puppies are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures.
  • Keep cats indoors and protect your dogs from frostbite or hypothermia by taking them outside for short periods during cold weather. Consider a comfortable dog sweater or coat as an extra layer of warmth for a short-coated dog or puppy.
  • Never leave your cat or dog alone in a car during cold weather.  Cars hold in the cold, acting like refrigerators, which could cause your pet to freeze to death.
  • Outdoor dogs must be provided with adequate shelter and a constant supply of fresh water.  While the Humane Society strongly recommends bringing your dog indoors, dogs that live outside require as a minimum a dry, draft-free doghouse soundly built of weatherproof materials with the door facing away from prevailing winds.
  • Place your pet’s feet in warm (not hot) water before drying them off with a towel.  Consider using “booties” to protect your pet’s paws.
  • Don’t let your dog off leash on ice or snow, especially during a snowstorm, as dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost.
  • Ensure your pet always has a warm place to sleep away from drafts and off the floor.  A thick cozy dog or cat bed with a blanket or pillow is great.

When you accept responsibility for a pet, they rely on you to keep them safe.  This is not only a moral obligation, but a legal one.  If your pet suffers distress in the cold or heat because of your neglect, you can be charged.  Click here for information on how to report an animal you believe is being neglected or abused.