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Keep Your Pet Cool During the Dog Days of Summer

A heat wave is gripping the country, with more than 60 million Americans experiencing triple-digit heat over the next week.  But it’s not only us people who are sweltering under the sun’s seemingly relentless rays. Our animal friends are especially vulnerable to the dog days of summer, so please keep these safety tips in mind to help keep your pets cool when temperatures climb:

Regular exercise, surprisingly, can be dangerous for pets at this time of year. Even if your pets are active and in excellent physical shape, you may want to scale back their activities or change your exercise routine to the cooler hours of the morning or evening. This allows them to acclimate to the oftentimes-sudden increases in daily temperatures that occur during events such as heat waves.

Humans have the capacity to perspire and cool themselves during exercise, but our furry canine friends are limited in how they can keep their temperature regulated, relying on panting and limited sweating through their paws. While your pets are acclimating to the heat, develop an exercise plan that will get them safely through these hotter summer months.

Another way to keep your dog cooler is to take breaks between dog exercising sessions or take very short walks. Your dog should also always have access to fresh water so be sure to have a water bottle and a collapsible dog travel bowl with you during outdoor dog exercising activities.

At home outdoors, ensure that your pets have access to shade and fresh water at all times. Your trip to the supermarket or dentist’s office may take longer than you expect. You may even have a few more errands to run while you’re out and about when you originally thought you’d be gone for just a few minutes. Temperatures in your yard can increase to high levels in just a few hours, and heat stroke can become a serious issue. Make sure your pet has a shaded place to go and uninhibited access to a fresh water source.

What are the signs of heat stroke? Heat stroke can be deadly for our pets. Signs of heat stroke in animals include excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue/gums, lethargy, seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. If you suspect your animal is experiencing heat stroke, immediately seek veterinary treatment. You can try to provide temporary relief by wetting your pet with a hose or sponge using cool (but not icy) water to lower your pet’s temperature.

If your pet showed signs of heat stroke but has been cooled and now appears fine, do not assume that all is well. Internal organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and the brain, are all affected by extreme body temperature elevation. It’s best to have a vet examine your pet to assess potential health complications and ensure that other risks aren’t overlooked.

With these tips, you’ll be prepared to beat the heat this summer and keep your cool when it’s hottest out.

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