Dog days of summer: Keep your pets safe during extreme heat

CINCINNATI -- While it may be called the dog days of summer, the sultry period of summer is anything but kind to your furry little friends.

Extreme heat can be just as dangerous for animals as it can be for people so it's important to keep a watchful eye on your four-legged companions over the next week. Temperatures will sore into the 90s all across the Tri-State and you can expect plenty of humid air as well.

The Humane Society offers several ways to help keep your pet safe during periods of extreme heat:

  • Never leave your pets in a parked car - Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.
  • Watch the humidity - "It's important to remember that it's not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet," says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. "Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly."
  • Limit exercise on hot days - Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. To test the sidewalk and road before taking your pet on a walk, place your palm on the walkway. If you cannot keep your hand on the ground for ten seconds, it is too hot for your pet and could burn their feet.
  • Don't rely on a fan - Pets respond differently to heat than humans do, (dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet) and fans don't cool off pets as effectively as they do people.
  • Provide ample shade and water - Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don't obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
  • Cool your pet inside and out - Whip up a batch of quick and easy DIY peanut butter popsicles for dogs. (You can use peanut butter or another favorite food.) And always provide water, whether your pets are inside or out with you. Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat (such as the Keep Cool Mat). Soak these products in cool water, and they'll stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days. A great homemade solution is to fill an empty 2-liter bottle with water, freeze it, and place it in your pet's cage, house, etc. These are great for bunnies, cats or dogs.

The Humane Society also advises watching for signs of possible heat stroke in your pet. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness.

For more information from the Humane Society, CLICK HERE.

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