Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight

Warm temperatures can kill. Temperatures as low as 63° have caused deaths to not only people but animals in cars. I feel like this shouldn’t have to be said or wrote about but until pets and children stop dying in parked vehicles, it MUST be discussed. Besides dangers from warm, sunny days creating an oven in a vehicle, your pets can face other threats from the “dog days of summer”. This blog will discuss several summertime threats, ways to protect your pet, and pets and vehicles.

First thing I would like to mention is that certain breeds, certain colorations, seniors, the very young and the overweight can be more affected by the heat. Brachycephalic (or the “smush face”) breeds like Pugs, Boxers, Persians, and Exotic Shorthairs already have difficulty breathing and their short faces don’t allow for efficient panting. White, light color hair and pets without hair are more susceptible to sunburn.


Your pet should visit the vet each year to make sure it stays healthy. A wonderful time to make the yearly vet visit is during spring to early summer to confirm they are up to date on all their vaccinations. Dogs should be tested for Heartworm and Lyme disease before mosquitoes and ticks become very active. You can pick up flea, tick and heartworm preventatives while you are at the office.


Dangers in Summer:

Not only can the ambient temperature be dangerous to your pet, the humidity can affect your pet. Dogs pant to evaporate moisture which takes heat away from their bodies. Cats lick their coats, which the saliva then evaporates – providing a cooling effect. If the humidity is too high, they will be unable to cool themselves and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels. The average normal temperature for dogs and cats is 101°.


Because dogs and cats don’t sweat like we do, fans don’t cool pets as effectively as they do with humans. Provide ample shade and protection from the heat and sun. Trees and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse doesn’t provide any relief from the heat; it can actually make it worse. Make sure to keep your pets cool or else they can become dehydrated quickly. Since they are so close to the ground, their bodies can heat up quickly. Make sure to provide plenty of fresh water for them. Ice cubes and pet-friendly popsicles can help keep your pet cool and entice them to drink. Also, there are many dogs out there that like sprinklers and kiddie pools. Pools are not just for labs. My Great Pyrenees loves splashing in her kiddie pool. And I knew a little black pug who loved to lay with her feet outstretched in a shallow kiddie pool. Just like with children, never leave your pet unsupervised around a pool. If you have a regular pool, after your pet has played in the pool – rinse your dog off to remove the chlorine or salt from their fur. Also, try to keep them from drinking from the pool. The chemicals in the pool water can make your pet sick.


Adjustments to you and your pet’s exercise routine is highly recommended in warmer weather. Intensity, duration, and the time of day may need to change on hot days. Be mindful of where you walk your pet. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws. Walking in the grass can be harmful if insecticides or herbicides were used. When walking with your dog in warmer weather, remember to carry water for both you and your pet and take a few breaks along the way.


Summertime is an awesome time of year for parties.  However, this can pose a number of hazards to your pet.  With people arriving and leaving, your pet may slip out the door and become lost. Even if your pet doesn’t have food sensitivities, there are plenty of items that can be poisonous to your pet.  Alcoholic beverages, raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener Xylitol are just a few food products that can kill your pet. Citronella candles, oil products and insect coils can also cause injuries. There are a lot of animals with noise sensitivities and fireworks can be just as fear inducing as thunderstorms. Not only could the sound of fireworks stress your pet out, there is the potential of burns and trauma. Even unused fireworks are hazardous due to the toxic substances they are made with.


During warmer months, veterinarians across the US see an increase in animals with what has now been termed as “High Rise Syndrome”. This “syndrome” is when a pet falls out of a window or door and has been injured or killed from the fall. Diligence is a must for you to keep all unscreened windows or doors closed and be sure adjustable screens are tightly secured. Speaking about your home and summer, power outages can occur. Don’t forget to make a disaster plan and have it readily available in case of an emergency.


Intact animals will be out roaming looking for a mate – which makes getting injured or killed by vehicles or people not wanting animals on their property.


A lot of people travel during the summer.  If you are taking your pet on vacation with you, there are a couple of tips you should follow.

  1. Make sure to pack enough pet supplies for your entire trip. Most people buy commercial brand pet foods and you should be able to pick up their food in most places but it is a good idea to have enough so you don’t have to switch foods – which can lead to upset stomachs and possible food allergies.
  2. Small dogs and cats should be kept in a carrier and larger dogs in a seatbelt harness while the vehicle is moving. In case there was an accident, you wouldn’t want your beloved pet thrown through the windshield or injured by the air bag. For more information about the importance of restraining your pet, visit Paws to click.
  3. Don’t allow your dog to have their head hanging out the window. Your dog is at a high risk of sustaining an injury to their eyes, ears, face, and mouth from airborne objects. I know we all have been driving behind a tractor trailer and a stone has been kicked up and hit the windshield; can you image how that feels if that stone would hit you or your pet in the face? Also, dogs are in danger of falling or jumping out of a moving vehicle when the windows are down. I’ve also heard of a dog who had his head out the window and then stepped on the automatic window button, only to have the window close on his neck.
  4. When traveling with your pet, they should wear two ID tags – one with your home address and one with the destination address.
  5. It’s also a good idea to travel with your pet’s records and have a list of veterinarians along your destination route that accepts emergency clients.


If it isn’t completely necessary to take your pet with you, then leave them at home. Never leave your pet in the vehicle. Many pets are stolen each year from unattended cars. Now, we are going to have some very scary and concerning facts about temperatures inside vehicles on warm days. These facts come from two different studies, The American Academy of Pediatrics and The Louisiana Office of Public Health. First, it doesn’t matter if the windows of your vehicle are cracked or not – it has very little effect on the temperature inside the vehicle. Also, it doesn’t matter what the color of your vehicle is or whether it is a cloudy day or not.


The chart below is courtesy of the study from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It shows how quickly the temperature inside a vehicle can go from tolerable to deadly. Remember, your pet’s temperature is already several degrees higher than your own body temperature and they can’t sweat like we do.


hot car temps pdf
In Pennsylvania, there are no laws protecting animals from being kept inside a vehicle and no penalty if someone has locked their pet in it. But if you as a Good Samaritan break a car window to rescue the pet, you could be faced with vandalism charges. There are ways you can help if you come across an unsupervised pet in a vehicle.

  1. Take down the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number.
  2. If there are businesses nearby, notify their manager and request they make an announcement to find the vehicle’s owner to return to their vehicle.
  3. Make a list of essential telephone numbers and keep them handy. This list should include the local animal control number and the police department’s non-emergency number.

*Stay by the vehicle and monitor how the pet is doing until the owner or police get there.


Those numbers for our area are:

Franklin County animal control is through CVAS at 717-263-5791

Chambersburg Police department non-emergency dispatch at 717-263-1611

Shippensburg Police department non-emergency dispatch at 717-532-7361

PA State Police department non-emergency dispatch at 717-783-5599


If your pet has been exposed to high temperatures look for signs of heat stress: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting or a deep red or purple tongue.


If your pet is overheated, move him/her to a cooler area and call your vet (or an emergency veterinary clinic) immediately. Place cool (not cold), wet towels over the neck, in the armpits and abdomen until you can get your pet to the vet hospital.


With a little bit of care, the whole family can enjoy a safe and happy summer.


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