Monday, August 18, 2008

Ten Tips To Help Your Dog Beat The Heat

NY Daily News, 11 August 2008

By Nicole Lyn Pesce

Dogs need protection from the heat, too.

The dog days of summer are just as miserable for our four-legged friends.

"Anything that feels uncomfortable to you is definitely going to feel uncomfortable and unsafe to your pet," says Tod Schadler, veterinarian and associate dean at Ross University's veterinary school.

Common sense can soothe cats and dogs begging to beat the heat. "What you would do to protect your child in the summertime is basically the same thing you would do for your pet," says Rashell Cooper of PetSmart.

Check out these expert tips for a safe summer with your pets.

1. Never Leave Pets Alone In Parked Cars. Even parking in the shade or cracking the windows isn't enough to keep your vehicle from becoming a 120-degree deathtrap in minutes.

2. Don't Overexert Your Pet. "If you're going to exercise your pet, don't do it when it's blazing hot in the middle of the day," says Schadler. Walk in the morning, late afternoon or evening, when temperatures are cooler.

3. Carry Water On The Go. "Just like a jogger takes some water along for themselves, take some water along for your pet, too," says Schadler. Signs of dehydration include dry tongues and noses.

4. Stick To Shade. Outdoor pets need shady spots in your yard. "It's always good in a grassy area," says Cooper. "It's cooler than being on concrete or dirt."

5. Have Backup Water Bowls. Scatter extra bowls around. "If they knock one over, there's always a fallback dish," says Schadler. Or fill a bowl with ice: "They can lick the ice cubes and the melting water stays nice and cool."

6. Keep Them Groomed. Brush and trim mangy or overgrown coats. "We recommend a professional groomer help you determine the length and what's going to keep them cool, but also protected from the sun," says PetSmart's Michelle Friedman.

7. Pets Need SPF. "If they're exposed to the sun a lot, they're susceptible to sunburns and skin cancer," says Cooper. There are pet sunscreens, but ask your vet about safe brands . "If dogs can get their tongue at it, they're gonna lick it off," Schadler says.

8. Protect Paws. Scalding sidewalks can cause serious burns. "You don't want to walk barefoot, and it's no different for your dogs," says Cooper. Try protective booties or walk on grass.

9. Watch Pets In Water. Some dogs aren't good swimmers. "Have them wear a life jacket for extra protection if they get tired," says Cooper. Don't let pets drink from chlorinated pools or from creeks and rivers crawling with microorganisms.

10. Know Heat-Stroke Signs. Look for excessive panting, disorientation, weakness, vomiting and very hot skin. "Call your veterinarian," says Schadler. "Describe what you're seeing. They'll let you know how much of an emergency it is.”