How to keep pets cool during a heat wave

The BC SPCA is out with a reminder not to forget about the impact soaring temperatures can have on pets as a heat warning is in effect for the Lower Mainland.

Vancouver branch manager Jodi Dunlop says the first and most important piece of advice she has is never to leave animals in cars.

"Do not bring your pet shopping with you. It is far too hot. Leaving a dog or a cat–more often than not it's a dog– in your car during the heat wave is unacceptable," she says.

"Dogs can die within 10 minutes being left in a car or suffer irreparable brain damage. Please, just leave your animals at home. They'll be healthy and happy there."

She urges anyone who does see an animal left alone in a vehicle to report it immediately to either the local police department or to the SPCA hotline.

Another tip for dog-owners is to adjust their timing of daily walks. Dunlop says early morning or evening is best because the pavement gets so hot during the day that it can quickly scald their sensitive paw pads.

Certain pets, she explains, have more difficulty cooling themselves than others. Bulldogs, frenchies, Persian cats and other "smush-faced" breeds all might need a little extra help and attention from their humans. This can include purchasing a cooling scarf or making one at home by dampening a towel with cool water.

Dunlop also says although the heat is cause for concern, there are a few fun options for keeping them cool, like setting up an inflatable kiddie pool or running the sprinkler for dogs.

Frozen treats, she says, are something dogs, cats and even smaller pets like rabbits and guinea pigs can enjoy. Mixing some food with water, mashing it up and freezing it in an ice cube tray is Dunlop's recommended recipe. 

"Kids love freezies and popsicles, so do animals," Dunlop says.

During last year's deadly heat dome, Dunlop says SPCA branches received a lot of reports about animals in distress. The organization also had to close the branches that don't have air conditioning so staff could focus full time on keeping the creatures in their care comfortable.

"We have to remember they don't sweat like we do, so it is very difficult for them when it is hot. We have to first and foremost think of them, keep them cool." 

More tips and information can be found on the BC SPCA website.