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Keep pets cool during dog days

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In your quest to keep cool in this unusually hot summer, don't forget to keep your pets out of the heat as well. Since animals can't tell you if they're too hot, Clell Bagley, Utah State University Extension veterinarian, offers these tips for pet owners:

Know where your pet is when the temperature rises. Cats tend to find a cool place to hide in the heat. Dogs don't do this as much and subsequently end up having more heat-related problems.

Be aware of fur length. Pets do not perspire from the body, so fur does not make them hotter. In fact, the coat can actually act as an insulator and give them protection from the heat. Even Northern breeds of dogs, adapted to colder weather, can get by without a hair clipping this time of year.

Do not lock your pet in the car. If the temperature is 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees in 30 minutes or less. Simply cracking the windows does not give sufficient ventilation. It is best to leave your pet at home. If you must take it with you, tie it outside the car with access to shade and water. Check it frequently.

Provide some form of shade for dogs in a kennel. Pouring or spraying water on soil in the shade will also help cool your dog during the afternoon heat. If the kennel surface is concrete or asphalt, shade is even more critical.

Be aware of panting, since this is how dogs get rid of excess body heat. Do not do anything to interfere with this. Be cautious of strenuous activities such as taking your dog on hikes or bike rides. Take water and frequently give the dog small amounts. Watch the extent and amount of panting.

Know the signs of heat stroke. If panting seems excessive and the dog's mouth is wide open, heat stroke may be imminent. The signs include excessive panting and salivation, vomiting, an anxious or staring expression, rapid pulse and high body temperature. Heat stroke can cause permanent brain damage and death.

Emergency treatment includes immersing the animal in cool water or pouring cool water over the body and allowing it to evaporate. Ice packs can be applied to the head. If these suggestions do not help, take your pet to the veterinarian for medical treatment, which includes intravenous fluids and electrolytes to help bring the system back into balance.