Is Global Warming Putting Our Pets at Risk on Both Sides of the Atlantic? How the Weather Can Affect Animals
Global warming, it’s a complicated issue. Whilst the naysayers continue to search for conspiracies against climate change, this year the North American heat wave highlighted the very stark potential of our collective futures.
With more than 40,113 temperate records broken this year, the US and Canada have suffered 82 heat-related deaths and a further 22 deaths due to the resultant destruction of the derecho in June.
This loss of life allows us a small insight into the true power of extreme weather, but how is it affecting the nation’s pets?
Appallingly, hundreds of cats and dogs have died this summer due to insufficient care and dehydration. During times of severe environmental change, it seems that pets are usually the last priority and this is having a serious impact on their standard of care.
One of the most notorious (and deadliest) issues facing pets during a heat wave is overheating in cars.
“It doesn’t take any time at all,” veterinarian Andy Morton with Roswell’s Chattahoochee Animal Hospital told WSBTV-Atlanta, “30 seconds is all that’s needed for them to die.” Unlike humans, dogs cannot sweat to cool themselves down and this leads to heat stroke and suffocation.
Thankfully, policemen across the states have been actively clamping down on this kind of animal neglect. Tickets are being issued left, right and center, and whilst the amount of the ticket is down to the officer’s discretion, they can be as high as $1,000.
In worst case scenarios, it can lead to one year in jail for committing “animal cruelty” depending where you live, and a ban on owning dogs in the future.
Grey Skies over Great Britain
However, across the other side of the Atlantic, things are quite the opposite. Thanks to the Atlantic conveyor, the heat wave in the US has forced damp and muggy conditions towards the UK. Consequently, they have suffered more than their usual deluge of rainfall. It was the wettest June since records began, and is set to be one of the wettest summers, with 366.8 mm of rainfall.
Nonetheless, this wet weather isn’t without its bugbears. Due to the humidity, biting insects have been extremely prevalent and this summer has witnessed the rise of the super-bug (one that’s
built-up a resistance to conventional treatments). This flea and mosquito influx has left pets and people itching for relief.
Whilst super-insect problems might seem like a trivial issue in comparison to the US heat wave, the influx of bugs can signal some very real, and highly dangerous, problems.
Fleas spread diseases like tapeworms, and can create considerable allergic responses in some pets. After all, the flea was responsible for spreading the Great Plague in Europe.
With winters becoming milder and pest populations increasing, the New Scientist reports that, “the European dog tick is transmitting a malaria-like disease, canine babesiosis, into countries where it was once rare including Belgium, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, ixodes ticks are living at greater densities across Europe, increasing their risk of passing tick-borne encephalitis to horses and dogs.”
Changes to the Environment Means Changes to Behavior
Indeed, it seems the consequences of climate change not only effect people. With this in mind, it’s extremely important to heed the changes to your environment and behave accordingly, especially when the care of vulnerable animals is concerned.
Under absolutely no circumstances should a dog be left alone in the car, regardless of the weather conditions. However, this is especially the case during a heat wave. If you have to take your dog out with you, ensure that where you’re going allows dogs and, if not, get a family member to sit in the shade with them, ensuring the dog drinks plenty of water. You could face a criminal conviction, a hefty fine and the guilt of your dog’s death on your shoulders.
Let that be deterrent enough.
If you suspect a dog is suffering with heat stroke, call your vet immediately. You can check for symptoms and relief methods here.
If you see a dog locked in a car, call the emergency services.
(Sadly, you will be liable to pay damages if you smash a window and the owner presses charges).
Where super-fleas are concerned, it’s crucial that all owners receive the correct advice, tailored to their pet and his/her individual needs. Animed Direct is a fantastic website for vet advice (plus they have a wide range of flea treatments). They have a qualified vet engaging in live chats every single day and they are ready to answer your medical questions and concerns.
It’ always best to have a vet suggest the best course of treatment for your dog, it’s no good just guessing.