Queens pet care experts share ‘cool’ tips for keeping your furry friends safe this summer

Photo by Louis-Philippe Poitras on Unsplash

Pet parents across the city are keeping their beloved cat and dog pals cool during the sweltering summer temperatures and reminding neighbors to do the same. 

Pet care experts say dangerously hot temperatures for dogs and cats begin at 85 degrees Fahrenheit — a number New York City has easily surpassed in recent weeks. 

Several nationally recognized animal care organizations have resurfaced with the best tips for taking care of cats and dogs. Additionally, a few Queens-based animal care and rescue organizations have stepped up to share their advice on summer pet care.

In Ridgewood, where dog owners are advocating for the installation of a dog run, one pet store owner has taken it upon herself to ensure her furry clients are kept cool during the summer.

Photos courtesy Hayley Malin, Google Maps, Anthony Medina

Hayley Malin, a dog mom and well-known Ridgewood resident, is the owner of Two Monsters Pet Shop, located at 792 Onderdonk Ave.  

Malin sets up a customized water misting sprinkler for dogs to cool off in the summer as they pass by or enter her shop.  

The effort to keep dogs cool compliments what she has to offer in-store to help keep pet owners supplied with the latest products and informed about how to best take care of their beloved pets. 

One way Malin says pet parents can keep their pals cool at an affordable price is by using a cooling bandana.

“I have a bandana for my girl,” Malin said. “I get it wet, I put it in the freezer for a few minutes before we go for the walk so it’s really cold. It helps keep her body temperature down.”

Malin also shared a few additional helpful tips for neighbors to keep their pets cool during the summer: 

  1. Avoid walking during mid-day. Walk earlier in the morning or later in the evening, when the temperatures are at their lowest. Sticking to the shady side of the street can also help prevent paw damage. 
  2. Go on shorter walks or more walks for shorter periods to limit. 
  3. Invest in paw wax or coverings, like shoes, to protect dogs from the hot sidewalk. 
  4. Purchase a non-toxic gel-infused cooling pad for dogs when they are not at home or simply around the house to help them keep their temperature balanced and have a cool place to go at all times. 
  5. Watch your dog for signs of overheating and heat stroke. Darker-coated dogs are also more susceptible to absorbing the heat faster. Heavy panting, abnormally fast heart rate, and inability to stand are clear signs of overheating and potential heat stroke.

Queens animal rescue organizations are often tasked with doing the job of an entire city agency when finding dogs and cats a safe place to call home. 

In addition to the challenges facing volunteer-based and self-funded groups, environmental factors outside of their control, including the summer heat, also contribute to these challenges. 

Photos courtesy PuppyKittyNYC, Manja Vitolic and Baptist Standaer on Unsplash, Google Maps, Anthony Medina

Puppy Kitty NYC, a Middle Village-based pet rescue organization, willfully saved over 30 cats from an abysmal Woodhaven building early this year. 

Meagan Licari, president of the PKNYC rescue organization, offers similarly expert advice on pet care for the summer, especially for roaming street cats and dogs. 

One of the standout pieces of advice Licari shared is to be aware of dogs that are more prone to breathing problems, also known as brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Bulldogs and pugs are commonly known for having breathing issues, and the summer heat makes it significantly harder for them. 

“Dogs, especially brachycephalic dogs like bulldogs and French bulldogs, are very, very, prone to heat stroke. So you have to be very careful,” Licari said. 

Licari went on to share more essential tips for new and current pet owners: 

    1. Put out cool bowls of water for wildlife and keep track of cats or dogs showing signs of illness. When circumstances are dire, contact a rescue organization or take the animal to the nearest vet. 
    2. Provide a shade or shady area for outdoor pets to avoid intense heat conditions.
    3. Share frozen treats and freeze food with pets to help keep them stimulated and help regulate internal body temperature. 
    4. Never leave pets in cars. 
    5. Stay indoors if possible to avoid having a pet experience heat-related issues, such as burns on its paws or heat exhaustion. 

PKNYC’s efforts to save cats left in abysmal conditions in Woodhaven earlier this year helped reveal how a network of fellow pet rescue groups often step-up to do the work of city agencies.

Licari says a growing issue with strays continues in neighborhoods such as Ozone Park and Woodhaven

“A lot of times underserved and lower economic status neighborhoods is associated with more problems because people don’t have the money to spay neuter,” Licari says.

A neighborhood familiar with beach weather and summer boardwalk vibes also gets the help it needs when it comes to pet care from local animal rescue organizations. 

Photos courtesy Samantha Knox, Athena Dawson, Anthony Medina

Samantha Knox, the founder of the Itty Bitty City Kitties rescue organization, is based in Rockaway and shared key tips on how to keep cats safe from the summer heat. 

Although the stereotype that cats hate water still holds true for some, Knox confirms that is not always the case. One of the best ways to ensure they stay hydrated is a wet food diet and a water bowl that stimulates their instincts. 

“If you look at cats in nature, they’re not really drinking from puddles or ponds. They’re drinking from rivers and streams,” Knox said. “So cat fountains, which are super popular now, are probably one of the best gifts you can give your pet cat, especially in warm weather.”

Knox also considers the realities of keeping pets inside the house, even if they are cats, but she suggests that cat owners invest in a Catio (cat patio)—a small patio-like outdoor area for cats. 

Under careful supervision, cats could remain outdoors in a backyard for a short time in a controlled Catio environment. Some are constructed more sophistically, with climate control options like an installed fan or cool air ventilation. 

Knox says she uses a combination of shade trees around her patio to cool it and ensure her cats feel like the little panthers they are.

For the felines in the lives of city residents, Knox shares even more cat-specific tips:

  1. Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active in the early morning and late evening. They nap most during the day and it is the one way they can cool themselves off, so ensuring a stable and climate-controlled environment is the key. 
  2. Provide cats with a wet food diet. Cats primarily hydrate through their food, so frozen foods and water could also provide the cooling needed. 
  3. Find stimulating ways for cats to drink water. Investing in a cat fountain or a water bowl that provides some form of movement will tune into their natural instincts. 
  4. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in felines. Unlike dogs, cats do not necessarily pant when they’re hot, and it is more of a sign of overstimulation. 
  5. Lethargy, nausea, inability to eat, increased sleepiness and movement issues are the critical signs of heat-related health issues in cats. 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, along with several nationally recognized organizations like the American Red Cross, also share tips on how to keep pets safe in the heat year-round. 

Readers are encouraged to actively seek the advice of their neighborhood veterinarians, pet shops and rescue organizations to ensure pets’ safety this summer.

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