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Use caution with pets during dog days of summer

The dog days of summer are here, and owners should take some precautions to ensure their dogs remain healthy, happy and safe.

Make sure your dog remains protected from the extreme heat. If your dog must remain outdoors during the day, make sure there's adequate shade throughout the day. If adequate shade is not naturally available, add a shade umbrella or shade cloth for extra protection.

Have cool to cold water available at all times. Make sure the water container is in a shady area. Add lots of ice to the water bucket before leaving for the day. (Dogs are not likely to drink water that is warm or hot, thus increasing the possibility of dehydration and overheating.)

Your dog will likely enjoy access to a wading pool as a way to cool down. For non-swimming dogs, fill the pool with just a couple of inches of water. But if you have a dog that really enjoys getting wet, fill it up!

Shaving the coat down to the skin robs the dog of true sun protection. The coat acts as an insulator in the winter but also aids in keeping the dog cool in the summer. If you must have your dog shaved, be sure to leave an inch or two of coat length, which will protect your dog from sunburn.

Brachycephalic breeds are in greater danger. Those with short muzzles such as bulldogs, pugs, boxers and Shih Tzus have a higher risk of overheating. All dogs pant to keep cool, but these breeds are much less efficient at it because of their often-narrowed nostrils and windpipes. Walks and other exercise should be limited to cooler mornings and evenings, and great care should be taken to keep them cool during the day — preferably indoors.

Avoid hot concrete and asphalt surfaces. These can burn your dog's paws. And be aware of your dog's body language; he can't tug on your pant leg and point to the ground or "tell" you that his paws are sizzling, but a dog that is "dancing" on the sidewalk, holding up one paw and then another, is definitely getting scorched.

Watch for symptoms

Heatstroke is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Signs that indicate your dog is having a heatstroke include heavy panting and difficulty breathing, bright red tongue and mucous membranes, staggering or unsteadiness, and sometimes vomiting. Seek veterinary attention immediately.

Use caution with pets during dog days of summer 07/10/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 11:50am]
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