Pets need special care during hot summer weather

By By Tracy Brady
Record Reporter
The summer months bring about many dangers to pets that are often overlooked. Some dangers of the summer include dehydration, sunburn, poisons and heat stroke. The summer heat can often be fatal to your companion if not properly protected from the elements. Take these simple precautions to protect your pet during the summer months:
* Provide plenty of fresh, cold water
Dehydration can occur very quickly and easily during the summer and could cause death. Your pet should always have clean, cool water. Changing the water at least once a day will prevent it from becoming too warm or contaminated.
* Provide adequate shade/shelter
Your pet should always have a cool shaded place to escape heat. Bring your dog indoors on extremely hot days and hours of the day (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Keep cats inside.
* Exercise and walk your dog in the early morning or late evening
Never exercise your dog in hot weather or on asphalt. Walking your dog or exercising in too much heat can result in dehydration, heat exhaustion or stroke. Walking your dog on asphalt can result in burning the pads on the feet.
* Groom you pet
For longhair dogs, it is a good idea to have the coat trimmed to avoid heat exhaustion. Trim the hair one-half inch. Avoid having the hair trimmed down to the skin for outside dogs to prevent sunburn.
* White fur stays indoors
Animals with white hair/fur are easily susceptible to sunburn, especially on the ears. It's a good idea to apply sunscreen to the ears if your pet will be outside for a long time. Pets are also susceptible to skin cancer. If you notice any abnormalities in skin appearance, have your pet seen by a veterinarian.
* Avoid pesticides
If you use pesticides, such as ant killers, weed killers, etc., be sure to keep your pet in a safe area so they will not come in contact with these poisons.
* Do not keep snub-nosed dogs outdoors
Bulldogs, Pekinese, Boston terriers, Llasa apsos and shi tzus should be kept indoors because they are unable to exchange their air well, especially in warm weather.
* Keep overweight animals and those with heart or lung problems indoors.
* Never leave you cat or dog in the car.
Do not leave your pet in the car for any reason, even if it's only for a minute. Leaving your pet in a vehicle, even if the windows are open, is extremely dangerous. The temperature inside a car rises very quickly. Overheating can kill an animal.
Always take extra precautions for your pet during the summer months. Taking a few simple steps to protect your pet can save their life. It is always a good idea to take your pet to a veterinarian for an early summer exam. Your veterinarian can also advise you on a good flea and tick control program. These steps will help you and your companion have a safe and happy summer.
The previous summer pet safety tips have been provided by Stephanie Hartsfield, D.V.M. of Best Friends Animal Hospital, 34 Hughes Road, Suite E. For more information, call 464-5030.

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