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Now that it’s May, the lazy, hazy days of summer are officially here. That means backyard cookouts, long days at the pool, and plenty of heat. While everyone probably knows the basics for summer survival, few know that pets need the same kind of cooling TLC.
   Dog in a pool full of water
Thankfully, some of the best tips are obvious. Just like you, your pet needs plenty of cool water to beat the heat. And also just like you, they need to stay in the shade as the day hits its peak temperatures from noon to five. That does not mean you can leave them in your Dodge Caravan, though. Just because it’s shady in there, doesn’t mean it’s cool. The inside of a car can easily be twenty to 30 degrees warmer than outside temperatures, making an eighty-degree day into a 110 degree nightmare for Fido.
Most animals deal with heat slightly differently than humans, which are surprisingly well-adapted at sloughing off heat. Dogs, in fact, don’t even have sweat glands; they cool off by panting. Their smaller size and ground-hugging gait mean they are less able to sustain their core temperature, making it harder for them to keep from overheating. Add these differences to the aforementioned fur coat, and what would merely be a sweaty jog for you could be a life-and-death run for a dog.
Dark brown dog under an umbrella at the beachThankfully, there are warning signs. Panting is normal for dogs, but becomes faster and shallower as they heat up. They also drool more, and may vomit or have diarrhea. The spring may fall out of their step as they become lethargic, weak, or simply collapse.
Hot asphalt and sand should also be avoided; animal paws can easily burn on so-hot-you-can-fry-an-egg surfaces. If you can’t walk barefoot comfortably on a surface, don’t ask them to.
Pay special care to your flat-faced pets like pugs and persians. Their little bug-eyed faces may be cute, but they also make it harder for them to breath, pant, and regulate their temperature.
Outdoor pets would probably appreciate an outdoor fan, and some dogs will actually use the ground’s lower temperature by digging little bowls to lie in. Make sure they have a dry, shaded area to dig in.
Furrier pets should have their shedding winter coats brushed often, and trimming the fur is a great idea.
Dog standing infront of a blowing fanHowever, never shave your pets, as the fur provides much-needed protection from the Sun. It’s a point worth repeating if your pets have pink noses, ears or other exposed skin. Those little pink features may be cute, but they are also as vulnerable to sunburn as your own skin. Consult with a veterinarian before using any sunscreen – the only foolproof plan is stick to the shade until late afternoon, when the sun’s rays are weaker.
Above all, just use a little common sense with your four-legged companions, and you’ll both beat the heat. / Issue 191 - September 1872
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