Lila Pelgone has been volunteering at the Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley while studying to become a veterinarian. But on a day like Tuesday, with temperatures reaching triple digits, it’s not just about giving pets some time to play — but keeping them cool.
“Usually I walk them around in the shade. I take them to the butterfly garden area, there’s a little water thing they drink out of,” Pelgone said. “I think some of the dogs are really thankful that they’re able to come out.”
With excessive heat warnings now affecting millions of people throughout Southern California, and with Riverside and San Bernardino counties expected to see temperatures between 105 and 112 degrees, the conditions are extremely dangerous not only for humans, but pets too.
Dr. Ayden Ables is a veterinarian with So Cal Vet Group. He said he recently took in a dog patient with a temperature of 107 degrees. If you’re wondering how that happens, it’s actually dangerously easy.
Ables said the dog had to be put on a catheter with active cooling needed both inside and outside of its body.
“[At] temperatures that high, our organs don’t function as well so they can go into organ failure, kidney failure and have blood clotting abnormalities,” Ables said.
For pet owners there are some dos and don’ts to keep your pet safe in the heat wave.
For instance, do give pets ice water, but don’t leave it out in the heat, especially in a metal bowl that can get searing hot.
You should walk your dog in the early morning hours or later when it’s cooler, not at peak heat in the afternoons when your dog’s paws can burn on the asphalt.
And very importantly, don’t leave them outside for prolonged period or inside a hot car.
In just 10 minutes, temperatures inside a car can soar 20 degrees, even with the windows wide open. That can lead to heat-related illness.
John Welsh of Riverside County Animal Services says local vets and shelters are already packed with animals and a health emergency could mean serious complications or even death for pets who experience heat illnesses.
“This is not the time to have an emergency situation,” Welsh said. “Vet offices are packed, emergency vet hospitals have client after client. They cannot probably see you because the demand for vet services is so high right now and there’s so few vets, not just here in SoCal, but beyond.”
For pet owners, the message is clear: now’s the time to bring your pets indoors and pay as close attention to them as you would yourself or another loved one.
Pups Without Borders, a local nonprofit, is collecting tax deductible donations to buy massive blocks of ice to give the dogs something to keep them cool and hydrated. To donate, click here.