How to keep pet dogs cool in the summer heat
(The Freeman) - April 14, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Summer is a time for fun in the sun – even for family pets. But your family’s furry friends need to be protected from the heat, too. Here is a list of ways to keep your pets cool and hydrated through the dog days of summer:

Never leave your pet in a parked car. This is one of the best ways of preventing heat stroke in dogs or cats. On an otherwise mild 75-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can climb up to 115 degrees in an hour. Even with the windows down, your dog or cat overheating in these conditions is a real possibility. Plus, a pet may get overexcited in the car due to passersby or panic from claustrophobia, promoting panting and making dehydration more likely.

Walk pets in the early morning or evening. Making simple adjustments to your pet’s regular outdoor routines can help protect them during the hottest hours of the day. Schedule your daily walk, run or visit to the park for the early morning or late evening. The air will be cooler and easier for your pet to breathe. 

Avoid asphalt and other hot surfaces. Heat rises, especially when the ground is covered by hard surfaces like cement and asphalt. Your dog’s paws can be as sensitive as the soles of your feet – if not more so – given that dogs absorb and release heat through their feet. So if the sidewalk is too hot for you to scoot across barefoot, it’s too hot for your best friend. To avoid scorching your dog’s delicate paws, try walking on grassy areas as much as possible. Dog boots, socks and paw protectors are another option. 

Supply lots of fresh, clean water. Keep plenty of fresh, clean water in your pet’s dish to ensure that it drinks often and stays hydrated. With dogs, pay special attention to any specific needs related to the specific breed. Because darker coats absorb more light (and heat), a Chocolate Lab is more likely to heat up quicker than a Golden Retriever. Finally, if your pet is overweight, it is at greater risk of becoming dehydrated.

Find innovative ways to cool your dog. If you have a swimming pool, let your dog take the occasional dip. You can also put out an inflatable pool for dogs to splash around in or let them run through a sprinkler cycle (supervised, of course). If your pet has a favorite spot, swap out the blanket for a damp towel. Set up a homemade swamp cooler by placing a pan of ice in front of a fan. Finding a place to dig in the yard can help your dog keep cooler, too. Remember, dogs cool from bottom to top.

Let your dog check the weather. Dogs don’t know they’re being denied a long walk because it’s too hot outside. Let them outside for a minute or two so they can feel for themselves that the weather isn’t agreeable.

Know the signs of overheating. Human beings perspire. Dogs and cats regulate their internal temperature mostly by panting. But they do sweat, too. Both dogs and cats have a few sweat glands in their paws. However, that surface area isn’t nearly enough to provide the cooling effect your pets need. To prevent your dog from overheating, pay attention if he or she begins drooling excessively. Other symptoms of heat exhaustion include labored breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, and mild lethargy (or weakness). More severe symptoms can include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Cats aren’t immune to heatstroke, either. When it’s hot, be on the lookout for heavy or rapid panting, unsteady walking, a bright red tongue, discolored gums, drooling, weakness, muscle tremors, dizziness and lethargy.

Take these precautions and follow these recommendations, and your furry friends will have it made in the shade all summer long. (www.ahs.com)

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