Sustained heat — such as the 100-degree days southwest Kansas has been enduring for the better part of 2 weeks — can be damaging.

While many people understand the importance of staying hydrated and cool, some don’t take the same measures with their pets or vehicles.

Temperatures reached 100 degrees on Thursday and are expected to remain high through the weekend, with a weak cold front moving through the area bringing a chance of thunderstorms both Saturday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

While any precipitation will help cool temperatures but will also raise humidity levels which may cause heat indexes to rise.

According to PetMD.com, the biggest danger associated with pets living or exercising in hot environments is hyperthermia (elevated body temperature). The range of normal body temperatures for cats and dogs typically spans from 100 to 102.5F. 

Common causes of body temperature elevations above the normal range include fever-associated conditions (inflammation, infection, pain, toxic reaction, immune mediated disease, cancer) and non-fever conditions (activity, hot environment, etc.). Younger and smaller animals tend to run near the higher end of the range or slightly over.

In general, dogs and cats don't rid their bodies of heat via sweating like we humans, so the responsibility falls upon the respiratory tract and paw pads to evacuate body heat. As a result, pets are more prone to suffering health problems when exposed to high air temperatures or forced to be active in hotter environments,

Hyperthermia becomes dangerous when body temperatures rise above 104F, as the body’s ability to get rid of heat is overcome. As temperatures creep closer to or above 106F heat stroke occurs and causes vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, seizure activity, multi-system organ failure, coma, and death. Although cats are also prone to heat related health issues, hyperthermia and heat stroke are more commonly associated with dogs. This is likely a result of dogs typically leading a more outdoor lifestyle and participating in activities with their owners.

According to PetMD, pets should have plenty of water, avoid exercise during the hottest parts of the day, have shade when outside, avoid leaving the pet in the car and keep indoors cool and allow the pet to be inside if possible.

Pets can be damaged by heat and so can automobiles.

According to AAA Kansas, sustained heat can cause vehicles to overheat, older batteries to fail and create tire troubles.

"The effect this kind of weather can have on your car is cumulative so we’ll be fielding lots of calls" says Jennifer Haugh, spokesperson for AAA Kansas.

AAA Kansas responded to almost 1,000 calls so far this week.

Those calls included overheated engines, tire blowouts, dead batteries and tows. AAA Kansas suggests having a battery tested and making sure tires are properly inflated. AAA Kansas suggests car owners inflate tires to pressure stated in the owner’s manual, not the pressure printed on tires. When tires are over-inflated, tires can overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. The issue is emphasized when road temperatures are extremely high.

AAA Kansas also suggests motorists carry a summer emergency kit with a fully charged cell phone with water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or emergency beacon, hand tools and a first aid kit.

 

Contact the writer at rbluhm@dodgeglobe.com.