Keep pets protected in summer

Summer can be a trying time once the infamous dog days finally arrive. Increased humidity and long periods of drought can make summer a difficult season to bear.

Perhaps no one struggles through summer's dog days more than, well, a dog (or cat). The family pet could fall victim to summer heat when taken out during the heart of the season.

To keep pets safe this summer, consider the following tips.

• Keep animals hydrated. Fresh, cold water should be available to pets at all times during the summer. Cats, dogs, rabbits, or any other domestic animal is not as equipped to handle heat as well as humans.

When pets do go outdoors during summer, monitor their breathing closely and keep them in the shade as much as possible. Pets are far more susceptible to heat stroke than humans, highlighting the importance of keeping them hydrated and out of the sun.

• Keep animals cool indoors as well. Just because a pet isn't outside doesn't mean the pet won't suffer from the heat. Snub-nosed dogs such as English bulldogs or pugs, for example, need to be kept cool indoors as well as outdoors. Keep the air conditioning on when out during the day if possible, or keep a floor fan running to ensure your pet stays cool indoors while you're away.

• Be mindful of where you walk. It's important for dogs to get out of the house and go for a daily walk.

However, the padding on your best friend's feet is susceptible to burning when walking on hot asphalt. This can prove extremely painful for dogs. When walking a dog in the summertime, try and walk at a nearby park where dogs can casually stroll on a much cooler surface such as grass.

In addition, avoid taking dogs to the beach, at least during the daytime. The beach provides no shade or fresh water, two things a dog sorely needs in the summertime.

• Never leave a pet unattended in the car. Pet owners should never leave their pets unattended in the car. Even on mild spring days where the temperature outside seems perfectly comfortable, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach up to 130 degrees in less than 30 minutes.

Regardless of how little time you think an errand will take, do not leave a pet unattended in the car. Simply leave the pet at home instead.

• Alter your pet's exercise schedule. If you take your dog for a mile walk in the spring, reduce that walk to a half mile in the morning and then another in the late evening, when temps are cooler.

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2009-06-11 digital edition

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