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Tips to beat the heat -- for our canine friends

June 17, 2013 Updated: June 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm
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When the temperatures top out, the two-legged have a multitude of options to beat the heat. Without our assistance, dogs usually have just one - panting.

In extreme heat scenarios, such as the interior of a car, panting can just exacerbate dehydration. And when it's 80 degrees outside, the inside of a car can reach 125 degrees very quickly, even with the windows left open. Each summer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals receives dozens of reports of dogs who've died after being left in hot autos by naive or careless pet owners.

"Basically, don't take your dog out if you don't have to, unless you're not stopping anywhere, not even for five minutes," said Amanda Fairchild, a certified veterinary technician at Dublin Animal Hospital.

Dogs already have a much higher body temperature than humans. And there's all that fur.

"Dogs can overheat, literally, within just a few minutes when it's this hot out and they're in an enclosed space like that," Fairchild said.

Signs that your dog may be overheating include heavy panting, lethargy and restlessness.

"Restlessness can be a sign that they're in extreme discomfort," Fairchild said.

She offered these tips for keeping pooches happy and healthy throughout the summer:

- If you're traveling with your pup and a brief stop is necessary, be sure to roll down multiple windows. If it's a safe area for it, secure the dog outside while you go about your business - quickly.

- Carry a doggie "emergency kit" when you travel by car, including a Tupperware dish freshly filled with ice water and a towel that can be soaked and applied to the dog's back, stomach or neck if overheating occurs.

- Consider a Kool Collar, an expandable dog collar filled with a reusable ice pack.

- Heat isn't just a danger in enclosed spaces. Dogs left outdoors for long periods of time, in blistering temps, are just as much at risk. Be sure to provide a shaded area, preferably with a concrete or stone floor, and plenty of water.

- Dog houses should be placed in the shade, under trees, porch or patio roofs.

- Owners of larger and thick-furred breeds should consider crating their pets inside for the hottest portions of the day or adding a freshly filled non-inflatable children's swimming pool to the dog's summer habitat. That way, Fido can cool off at his leisure.

- Paw pads are not shoes. Some people think that the pads on a dog's paws are like shoes, but they're not. Sidewalks and streets become extremely hot in the summer, and while a dog's paws are tougher than human feet, they still can get burned by hot pavement. Keep your dog on the grass in extreme heat to keep his paws intact. Also remember that sand can burn, too, so try taking your long beach walks with your dog early in the morning or evening when it's cooler.

- Prevent sunburn. Believe it or not, dogs can get sunburned too. Hairless and light-skinned dogs have a greater chance of getting burnt. Make sure to put dog-safe sunscreen on your pup if he's going to be outside in the sun.

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McClatchy Newspapers contributed to this story. Contact Stephanie Earls at 636-0364

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