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A routine walk during the heat of the day, a backyard without ample shade, or a five-minute sit in a parked car could lead to heat exhaustion, which can cause irreparable brain damage or even death for your pet.
Pets require extra protection from the summer's scorching temperatures. Dogs with short-muzzles, such as boxers, pugs, and mastiffs, have an even more difficult time breathing during hot, humid days.
Dogs and cats don't sweat like humans, they pant to cool themselves. But as temperatures reach 99 degrees, panting no longer cools. Loud, rapid panting, however is one of the first signs of heat exhaustion. Other signs include rapid pulse, glazed eyes, excessive salivation, elevated body temperature, excessive whining or agitation, staring, vomiting, and white or bluish gums. Only one of these symptoms has to be present to indicate your pet may be in trouble.
- Keep plenty of cool, clean water in a spill-proof container available to your pets. Outdoor dogs may enjoy a baby pool filled with fresh water to lie in when the temperatures get high.
- Brush your pet's coat to keep it free of mats. Do not shave off your pet's coat, because bare skin can sunburn. Fur protects your pet from the heat and insects and retains cooling water after a refreshing swim or a wetting from a garden hose.
- Walk your pet during the cooler morning and evening hours. And, avoid the hot pavement, which can burn and blister your dog's paw pads.
- On hot, humid days, avoid running/jogging with your pet.
- Cracking the windows doesn't cut it. Never leave your pet in your car. Don't take your pet with you when you run errands. The temperature inside a parked car can kill a pet in a matter of minutes. When the temperature is 85 degrees, the temperature inside your car can soar to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, and 120 degrees in 30 minutes. And that's with the windows open and the car parked in the shade!
If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion, cool your pet immediately by placing him in the shade and sponging or hosing him down with cool water, especially on the head, feet, and groin area. Give him a small amount of water to drink. Once your pet's temperature is back to normal, take him to your veterinarian for immediate care.
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