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During Hotter Stretches, Pets Need to Stay Cool, Too

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When the summer heat becomes unbearable, pet owners are urged to go to great lengths to keep their animals cool, including a constant stream of safe drinking water. And experts say you should never assume your pet can swim, and you should monitor them at all times near the water. (Adobe Stock)
When the summer heat becomes unbearable, pet owners are urged to go to great lengths to keep their animals cool, including a constant stream of safe drinking water. And experts say you should never assume your pet can swim, and you should monitor them at all times near the water. (Adobe Stock)

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 Mike Moen, Producer

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Wednesday, August 16, 2023   

Next week, parts of Wisconsin will see the return of near 90-degree temperatures. Animal rights voices say as hot stretches become more common, it is important for pet owners to take short- and long-term precautions to keep their four-legged companions safe.

The Environmental Protection Agency said under the threat of climate change, the Midwest is experiencing heat waves in greater frequency.

Kristin Schrank, board vice president of the Wisconsin-based group Alliance for Animals, said in general, ripple effects from a warning planet pose threats in a variety of ways.

“We’re experiencing extreme heat and cold, wildfires, smoke and poor air quality,” Schrank outlined. “This is not only impacting humans on the planet and their companion animals, but it’s also impacting wildlife.”

For summer heat, Schrank said pet owners should always keep fresh and clean water accessible, along with a shady spot. For those with a yard, she suggested enhancing landscaping, such as adding trees or shrubs, is helpful. Cooling mats for dogs are another option. When taking pets on a walk, experts say you should be mindful of the hot pavement, and either put protective boots on the animal or have them stay along the grass.

Schrank noted like humans, pets will show signs of heat stress, such as vomiting and disorientation. And there are some more likely to be affected by hotter temperatures.

“If the animal is very young, very old, overweight, thick coated, all of those things make them more vulnerable or susceptible,” Schrank pointed out.

Despite greater awareness, Schrank emphasized there are still tragic situations involving pets being left in hot vehicles or outside in the extreme heat with no protection. Last year, there were 57 heat-related pet deaths in the U.S. She added under Wisconsin law, there are certain civil liability protections for those who spring into action if they observe such a situation.

“Essentially, it does allow people to cause damage,” Schrank explained. “For example, break into a locked vehicle that has an animal that is suffering inside due to heat.”

Some animals are not included in the statute, such as farm animals. The person taking action also has to follow certain guidelines, such as calling 911. 

Disclosure: The Alliance for Animals contributes to our fund for reporting on Animal Welfare, Endangered Species and Wildlife. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.