Los Angeles, CA — The National Weather Service says the heat wave over the next three days could be “one for the record books.” Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) offers the following information to keep pets safe.

First and foremost: do NOT leave pets or children unattended in cars, not even for 5 seconds. Not only is it illegal, it can also be deadly.

If you see a pet or child locked in a hot car, call 911. Authorities are permitted to break car windows, if necessary, to free the victim. Leaving an animal in a hot car can result in being charged with animal cruelty.

On a hot day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar up to 160 degrees, even in the shade. This temperature is hot enough to cause heat stroke and permanent brain damage in pets and children.

Dogs do not sweat– they lose heat through their tongues, noses, and footpads.  Animals confined in a car, yard, or dog run, with no protection from the heat and without ample water are more susceptible to heat stroke than humans.  It is important to realize that just like humans, not all dogs deal with heat the same way. Dogs with flat faces (like Pugs or English Bulldogs), obese dogs, and ones with heavy coats have an even greater risk of overheating.

spcaLA urges people to follow these hot weather tips for pets to prevent a tragedy from occurring:

  • Keep plenty of clean, cool drinking water available at all times for your pet, including when traveling. If your pets are left alone during the day, ensure that their bowl is tip-proof.
  • Keep your pet at home. Never leave your pet in a parked car, not even for a minute.
  • Protect your pet from the sun. If your pet must stay in the yard (instead of the cool indoors which is recommended) be sure there is adequate shade and ventilation, in addition to plenty of water.
  • Keep pets groomed. To help your pet stay cool, clip coats short, but not shaved. Sunburn is a danger to animals, especially light-colored animals. Apply regular sun block to vulnerable areas such as the ears and nose.
  • Dog pads burn easily, so avoid hot surfaces such as asphalt on hot days. Exercise pets in the morning or evening when it is cooler.  After hiking, make sure to check for fox tails and other burns, as these can cause major problems.
  • If a pet is overcome by heat (detected by excessive panting, heavily salivating, and/or immobility) immerse him or her slowly in cool water to lower body temperature, and then go to a veterinarian. Never immerse a pet in ice cold water, as it may cause shock.
  • Include pets in your disaster plans. Prepare them by setting aside an emergency bag with supplies like food, bowls, treats, medicines, leash, collar, and a soft muzzle. 

Heat relief ideas for pets:

  • Ice trays: Freeze stock into ice cubes for your dog to lick or freeze a treat in each ice cube. Cats enjoy chasing slippery ice cubes, too.
  • Kiddie Pools: Fill a kiddie pool with water and let your dog splash. Toss a few of the ice cube treats in the water so he can “hunt” for them.
  • Frozen Pops: Make your dog a delicious frozen treat to enjoy. Pumpkin Pops and Frozen Monkey treat recipes are available on the spcaLA website.
  • For cats: Daily brushing, cooling your cat with damp towels, or adding a few ice cubes to the water bowl can help keep them cool. Allow your cat to find a cool spot in the home, such as cool bathroom tiles or the bathtub.