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Advice from a vet: how to keep your dogs safe in the summer heat

WTAP News @ 11- Pet and heat safety
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 8:36 PM EDT
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MINERAL WELLS, W.Va. (WTAP) - Your kids aren’t the only ones you should be keeping an eye out for in the summer heat. Your dogs can suffer from heat stroke too.

Veterinarian and owner of a local practice Leslie Elliott said dogs are actually more sensitive to the heat than us so, if you’re uncomfortable, chances are your dog is too.

“Dogs aren’t able to sweat like human beings. They only evaporate through their tongue mostly and by panting and sometimes their footpads but that’s less and they simply can’t pant enough to release all the extra heat,” she said.

Elliott recommends against getting your dog out in the sun for exercise during the heat of the day. That includes going on walks.

She explained, “They literally can burn their feet pads. What we say is, if you wouldn’t walk in it barefooted, I wouldn’t have your dog do it either.”

Elliott also warns against leaving your dog in the car even if you’re running a quick errand. According to PETA, animals can die of heatstroke in just 15 minutes.

“Even with the windows cracked or a fan blowing, the dog still can overheat very quickly. And it can be fatal,” Elliott said.

Some signs of heat stroke are labored breathing or excessive panting, vomiting, diarrhea, among other symptoms.

Certain dogs are more susceptible to heat illness than others.

Elliott elaborated, “If it’s one of those breeds that’s a smushed face, it’s called brachycephalic, and that would be pugs, bulldogs, frenchies, boxers, and mastiffs. They’re even more at risk simply because their entire nose and their breathing, they’re not as able to cool the air down as quick.”

If you suspect your dog has overheated, Elliott recommends calling a vet, getting them into air conditioning, giving them water to drink, and putting washcloths where their fur is thinner. Just make sure the drinking water and washcloths are cool not cold.

Elliott explained, “We don’t recommend ice water. That actually causes your blood vessels to constrict and the blood doesn’t flow as well to help cool off.”

Elliott encourages pet owners to learn how to take rectal temperatures as well.

“Anything over 102 is abnormally high and so when we see a dog with heat stroke it’s usually like 104 to 106 and it can be fatal,” she said.

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