Top 10 Hot Weather Tips

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Helping your pet survive the "Dog Days"
The ASPCA's Top 10 Hot Weather Tips

They don't call them "dog days" for nothing. For many reasons, dogs and cats are affected more quickly and have more pronounced reactions to high temperatures and humidity than humans. To help ease the impact of the heat on our furry friends, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has some important reminders for pet owners.

  1. When the pavement seems "hot enough to fry an egg," it's also hot enough to burn your pet's feet or overheat his body, which is a lot closer to the hot sidewalk than yours. Try to avoid standing still on hot pavement for long.
  2. Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. Even with the windows open, temperatures quickly rise to lethal levels.
  3. Like humans, it's best to exercise in the cooler morning and evening hours. Do not exercise your pet immediately before or after feeding, particularly in hot, humid weather.
  4. A day at the beach for your pet must include a shady spot to lie in, plenty of fresh water to drink and a hosing down after swimming in salt water.
  5. Wherever you go with your pet, always provide plenty of cool, clean water to drink. Carry a thermos when traveling.
  6. Open windows in your home may provide a welcome breeze, but an unscreened one could mean a tragedy if your cat falls out.
  7. Dogs with long, thick hair may be shaved down to a one-inch coat length to help prevent overheating and help you keep an eye on fleas and ticks -- but never shave a dog's hair down to the skin. His fur protects him from sunburn.
  8. Be extra sensitive to older and overweight animals in hot weather. That also goes for those more susceptible to heart and respiratory problems, such as Bulldogs, Pekinese, Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzus, Boston Terriers and other "snub-nosed" dogs.
  9. When you leave your pet home for the day in extremely hot weather, leave your air conditioner on and provide your pet with plenty of water. A few ice cubes in your pet's dish can help keep the water cool.
  10. Unlike humans, dogs and cats do not regulate their body temperature by sweating. So keep an eye on your pet for any signs of possible heatstroke, such as twitching, rapid panting, barking or a wild "staring" expression. Pour water on him every three to five minutes and them place him in a draft or under a fan. (Do not immerse your pet in water or use ice packs to counteract heatstroke.) Call your veterinarian.

Helping your pet survive the "dog days" means using your common sense -- Providing a cool, comfortable environment, giving them plenty of water and not pushing the limits of their physical endurance.

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