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Summer Safety for Pets

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Dog panting in the heat

Summer weather can be uncomfortable, but for our pets it can be dangerous.  There are things you can do to help your furry friend stay safe and comfortable.

     To start, make sure your pet always has access to clean, fresh water, especially when it is outdoors, and a shaded, well-ventilated place to rest. 

     If you walk your dog, do it early in the morning or in the evening, not in the heat of the day - and avoid asphalt or pavement that can burn and blister tender paws.  You can do a quick test by holding the back of your hand against the surface for seven seconds – if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.

     Do not shave your dog.  You can trim longer hair, and by all means give your dog (or cat) a really good brushing to remove excess hair; but an animal’s coat actually can protect it from overheating, even from being sunburned. 

     Talk to your veterinarian about the signs of heat stress or heat stroke in your pet – things like excessive panting, drooling, difficulty breathing, any of which could signal a medical emergency.  Animals don’t sweat – they cool themselves by panting.  Those with flat faces – like Persian cats and Pug dogs, are more vulnerable to the heat because they cannot pant as effectively.  Older animals, pets with heart or lung problems and those who are overweight are also at higher risk.  Keep those pets in air-conditioned areas if at all possible.  Speaking of air conditioning, have a plan to protect your pet if a power outage occurs in your area. 

     And it should go without saying, but never leave your furry friend in a parked car – even in the shade, even with the windows cracked, even for a few minutes.  There is no errand that is worth your pet’s life, and no reason to put your four-footed buddy at risk to avoid a temporary inconvenience.

     Keeping your furry friend safe this summer will help everyone stay healthy and happy, when we’re speaking of pets.

Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.