Americans have transitioned from worrying about COVID to grappling with the recent heat waves. Temperatures have been in the triple digits throughout the country, with especially high temperatures along North America's entire West Coast. It puts those experiencing homelessness, and anyone without access to air conditioning, at risk of experiencing heat-related illnesses, and it endangers both pets and wildlife. Yes, animals are adversely affected by the nationwide heat waves, too.
Luckily, though, you can do your part to help both domesticated and wild animals right now.
"Just like us, animals need to stay hydrated and need to find shelter so they can stay out of the scorching heat and sun," wild animal welfare manager of British Columbia's SPCA, Andrea Wallace, told Vancouver Is Awesome. "There's lots people can do in their own yards."
How are pets affected by heat waves?
An influx of dogs in Washington state, where the heat waves are especially brutal right now, have been experiencing heat strokes, veterinarian Dr. Kristen Davignon told K5. And sadly, flat-nosed dogs, such as bulldogs, pugs, and boxers, struggle the most — Davignon said they were receiving at least one dead dog upon arrival every hour.
"It was just kind of horrifying to have them come in, clearly past the point of us being able to help them," she told K5.
Dogs and cats can also overheat and sunburn. And if walking on a hot surface like pavement or sidewalks, dogs' paws can get burned and even blister. So it's important to keep your pets cool and hydrated during this time — take them on short walks, limit outdoor exercise, don't leave pets in cars, and if they're experiencing heatstroke (symptoms include heavy panting, agitation, rapid pulse, vomiting) take them to a cool place and apply cool water to their head, neck, and chest.
If you're a homeowner or landlord, consider leaving a bowl of water outside your property for passing pups. Also remember to spread the word — remind your pet parent friends that their furry friends are especially at-risk right now, and if you see a pet in a car, call authorities immediately.
How wild animals are affected by heat waves:
Wild animals aren't as lucky as our beloved pets, who have access to AC, or an abundance of water. Sadly, deer, birds, squirrels, and other undomesticated wildlife are struggling to survive amid these hot days. The resulting droughts also often leave them with limited access to water. That said, it's up to us to help, and luckily, there are a few things you can do to do your part.
Vancouver Is Awesome recommends putting a bird bath outside your home, to allow animals to stay hydrated, and birds and bees to drink water and cool off, as long as you place a few stones in there to help them land. Creating shady spaces in your yard is also helpful — plant some trees or tall plants, to create a space for them to cool off.