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Keep Your Pets Cool During These Hot Summer Months

It’s going to be an incredibly hot weekend, and Ginger Guttner with the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine reminds you that your pets are succeptible to heat stroke, just like people are.

Dogs can’t tell us when they feel hot, so it’s our responsibility to ensure that our pets have enough shelter from the sun, an adequate supply of water, and a way to cool off as the heat rises.

A dog’s body temperature is normally between 101 and 102 degrees. If it goes up to 105, you could be looking at some serious problems. “Bear in mind, if it’s hot for you, it’s hot for them,” Guttner says. “[Dogs] don’t regulate their temperature the way we do. They don’t sweat, they pant. And so if you have animals outside, you need to make sure they have plenty of shade and plenty of water. And especially make sure that water bowl is not something they can tip over.”

Remember, too, that it’s about 40 degrees hotter inside your car. So you don’t want to leave your pets in there during this sweltering heat. “I know dogs love to ride in cars,” Guttner says, “but this time of year, maybe just let ‘em stay home and wait until it gets a little bit cooler.”

So how can you tell if your pet is having a heatstroke? Guttner tells us some of the early signs are rapid breathing and heart rate, and gums that change from their healthy light pink color to bright red or even dull, grayish-pink. There also may be some vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog exhibits these signs, move it to a shaded area, soak the coat in cool water…and get it to a vet immediately. If you don’t, your pet may collapse, have a seizure, go into a coma, or even die.

Puppies and kittens, as well as older dogs and cats, are mostly likely to suffer heatstroke. Dog breeds with short snouts or muzzles, like pugs and bulldogs, are also at increased risk.

Guttner says LSU veterinarians see many cases of heatstroke every summer. They were treating a dog for that just this morning. Someone went out jogging with a pet, at around 7 this morning, and it was still too hot. She recommends you never jog or bike with your dog at midday during the summer.

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