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Excessive heat can take a toll on your pet

Published July 16. 2013 05:03PM

With temperatures soaring into the 90s and maybe even 100 this week pets need your help to stay safe in the heat.

Dr. Mary Lombardo, veterinarian at Mahoning Valley Animal Hospital, explained that there are a number of things a pet owner can do to ensure that the animal will be safe and happy, including not leaving a dog inside a hot car, using flea and tick medication to protect against disease, and bringing cats and dogs inside in the air conditioning.

"They love the AC just as much as we do," she said, adding that very young and older animals, as well as ones with breathing or heart conditions or breeds with short snouts, are bothered by the heat and more prone to heat-related problems than healthy animals. "Also, don't keep them in a car because the temperature in the vehicle can rise very quickly," she added.

If the animal is either too big to come inside or must remain outside for other reasons, make sure they have fresh water and plenty of shade; as well as protection from insects.

"If the animal must be outside, check on them at least four times a day," Lombardo said. "Once a day is not enough.

"If the heat is bothering you, then the heat is bothering your pet and you should act accordingly."

Lombardo added that there have been a number of cases so far this year of flies laying their eggs on an animal in areas where there are open wounds, and the animal develops maggots.

Pet owners must also watch not to burn their dog's paws by taking them for walks during the day.

"If you are going to walk your dog, do it early in the morning or in the evening when it is not super hot," Lombardo said, noting that the asphalt heats up like a frying pan during the summer months and can easily burn the pads of a dog's paws.

Swimming can provide a dog with a little relief from the heat, but remember to watch them so they don't accidentally drown.

Signs of a problem

Even if you are a vigilant pet owner and try to keep your pet safe during the hot summer months, some animals may still experience heat-related problems.

Lombardo said that pet owners should watch for excessive panting, trouble breathing, elevated body temperature (a dog's normal temperature is between 100 and 102 degrees), lethargic behavior, and dehydration. These signs could mean that the animal is having a heatstroke or other health problem.

In addition, also states to look for excessive drooling, dark red gums, a rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and warm or dry skin.

Heatstroke can advance quickly in animals and can be fatal if not treated.

According to the American Kennel Club website, advanced stages of heatstroke include white or blue gums, lethargy, uncontrolled urination or defecation, labored and noisy breathing and shock.

If you notice any of these signs in your animal, Lombardo said the first thing you should do is call your veterinarian or an emergency clinic.

You can also wet the dog down with cool (not cold) water; apply rubbing alcohol to the foot pads; and offer small amounts of water until the core body temperature stabilizes.

"Seek veterinarian attention if you have any concerns," Lombardo said. "Safety first."

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