Keeping Pets Safe in the Desert
Things You Should Know About Animals in the Desert
So you moved to Pahrump. Welcome! If you’ve never lived in the desert before, there are some things you need to know about caring for pets in this climate. You also need to be aware of some of the native animals and other critters that share this habitat with us. Here are some tips I got from Dr. Jack Thomas of Animal Care Center of Pahrump.
Desert Dangers for Pets
The biggest concern to be aware of is the heat. Leaving a pet in a hot car, whether the windows are cracked or not, can mean sure death for Fido in as little as ten minutes. The temperature in a car is generally 40 degrees hotter than outside and is compounded by your pet’s fur.
Many stores will call the fire department or some other organization if they see trapped pets left in a hot car in their parking lot. These rescuers will come and remove the animals from the car by any means they can to bring them to safety. The pet owner could face charges and/or fines depending where you are.
Leaving them outside in the backyard with no shade can also be detrimental to the health of your furry friend. Be sure there’s plenty of shade, moving air, and water all of which provide some relief. If it’s sweltering and there is no outside relief, determine a way to provide a cooler surrounding, perhaps by bringing them inside.
Some pets, depending on their color, are susceptible to sunburns if exposed to the hot sun over long periods of time. Places where their coats don’t provide protection, such as the tips of their noses, should be protected. Animals with white fur or pink noses also warrant additional protection.
Another place the heat can impact your pet is walking around on the hot ground. Cement, asphalt, rocks, and a lot of other outside surfaces can be scalding from the sun. Remember, your pet doesn’t have shoes or flip flops to protect them from burning their feet. Have you ever walked across a hot sandy beach without foot protection? It’s the same for your animal on any hot surface. If it’s hurtful for you to walk barefoot on it, it is for them too.
In the winter, the weather related dangers aren’t as profound. However, if it’s extremely cold over a period of time, the best thing to do is to bring your pets inside if possible, especially at night.
Some Desert Critters Are Dangerous
Many parts of the country have coyotes running wild and the desert is no exception. If you’ve noticed, most of them are pretty healthy looking which means they are eating well. Be sure your pet doesn’t become a meal for one of them. Keep them inside at night if possible. According to Dr. Thomas, Coyotes can easily jump a 4-foot fence, grab a 20-pound pet, and jump back over the fence in seconds flat. Larger dogs are not totally safe either. Although the coyote may not be able to run away with it, a lot of damage can be inflicted by an attack. Coyotes are pack animals, so humans need to be aware of potential attacks as well.
Other harmful and in some cases life-threatening critters live in the desert too so you should be aware of them. Here are some to watch out for:
- Black widows
- Brown recluse spiders (although rare)
- Other spiders
- Fire ants
- Bees (some of which have been Africanized and swarm quickly if agitated)
Be careful when walking about. These creatures tend to hide in rocks, bushes, wood pilings, and other places where they are unseen. Check the nooks and crannies of your house and yard and don’t stick your unprotected hand into any crevice. The same goes for your pets too. Be aware of your surroundings before you let your dog sniff around.
There are snake vaccines for those who take their pets into the open desert for walks, runs, hikes, or just exploring. According to Dr. Thomas, these vaccines will give up to six extra hours to get your animal to an emergency vet in Las Vegas for the anti-venom treatment.
Other wild animals that could cause harm include wild donkeys or horses if they kick your pet, mountain lions, and hawks. Because so many people travel with their animals now, some of the animal-related pests like fleas, ticks, lice, heartworm, and dog flu are on the rise. They travel here on the animals and come home with them. It’s wise to start treating your animal for these conditions before you visit other areas so that they won’t come back with unwanted guests.
The best thing you can do for you and your pets is to be aware of your desert surroundings and be cautious. Be aware of things to look for and take the appropriate action. Provide a safe environment for both people and pets.