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We all know the saying a dog is “man’s best friend.” The question is, are we returning the favor? Anyone who has watched an infomercial on cable TV showing how some dogs are mistreated or neglected by their owner knows how upsetting this can be. Sometimes, however, people don’t even realize they are neglecting their pet’s health.

Summer, for example, is a dangerous time for dogs, especially those that spend most of the day outdoors. They are more prone to heat stroke than humans because people sweat more readily than our furry friends, whose meager sweating is mostly through their paws. Instead, dogs try to regulate their body temperature by panting. Not leaving a dog in a yard with enough shaded areas, drinking water, or sunscreen on their nose, ears, and belly can lead to heat stroke and death. A word of warning — do not use your human sunscreen on a dog. It has ingredients such as zinc oxide that are harmful to animals. Purchase sunscreen formulated for dogs instead.

You should not leave a child or a pet in a car as they can overheat in minutes. Statistics show that the interior of a vehicle can reach 120 degrees in 10 minutes, even if you leave the window open a little. Hydration is essential. Dogs, like people, need to drink plenty of water during the summer. Water should be cool, but not necessarily ice cold, which can cause gastric problems.

Puppies and older dogs are more at risk for heat stroke, as are dogs that are overweight, have exceedingly thick fur coats, or are bred for colder climates, such as Siberian Huskies and Malamutes. A dog with a respiratory condition or is on medication should be closely monitored and have their time outdoors monitored during the summer. Veterinary experts say dogs with short noses (Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs) are also at a higher risk. And resist the urge to have your dog shaved. Their fur coat is a form of insulation and protects them from sunburn.

Many dog breeds need regular exercise for their well-being; thus, summer poses a challenge when the asphalt and concrete heat up. So, avoid taking your dog for a walk in the late morning or afternoon. Walk dogs in the morning and shorten their walks because heat and humidity can result in dehydration at any time of the day. Walk your dog on the grass, if possible. And invest in a set of booties even if you believe it will be a waste of time. It’s worth seeing if your dog will tolerate them because asphalt will burn the pads on your dog’s paws.

A pool can be a great place to cool off, but swimming is strenuous exercise, and your dog will still be exposed to the sun and heat. Limit their time in the pool, and rinse them with a hose afterward to eliminate chlorine. Also, dry your dog’s ears thoroughly to avoid infections.

Despite taking all precautions, your dog may suffer from heatstroke. Symptoms include vomiting, increased panting, difficulty standing, and difficulty breathing. Try to cool down your dog with a hose and go to your veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic as soon as possible.


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