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Summer pet safety

Selena Dehne is a marketing and public relations manager for JIST Publishing, freelance writer and life-long Hoosier. She covers home, entertaining, and holiday topics for SheKnows.com and FabulousLiving.com. Selena has also published do...

5 Tips to keep your pet healthy and cool despite the heat

Extreme heat and record-breaking temperatures have plagued several states across the nation this summer. To ensure that your beloved pet stays cool and healthy, despite these uncomfortable conditions, check out the following tips.

Never leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle

The temperature inside a parked vehicle can soar alarmingly quickly. According to a press release by the Humane Society of the United States, "On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85 degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car, even with the windows cracked open, can reach 102 degrees within just 10 minutes, and after 30 minutes the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Even when the temperature outside is a balmy 72 degrees, the temperature inside your car can rocket to a fatal 116 degrees in less than an hour's time."

A surefire way to ensure that your pet doesn't overheat in your vehicle is to avoid leaving him or her alone inside of one for any period of time.

Skip the summer haircut

Many pet owners give their animals a haircut in the summer, assuming that their pet will stay cooler with shorter hair. This is a myth you should be aware of. According to Traci Murdock, a certified professional dog trainer, "Mother Nature gave dogs — and other fur-bearing species — coats to offer protection from heat, cold and other elements. Shaving to the skin can actually make a dog hotter and subject him to sunburn, even skin cancer."

Protect your pet with sunblock

People aren't the only ones afflicted with summer sunburns. Animals can be affected too. According to Murdock, "Dogs and cats can get sunburn on areas of exposed skin, especially on their noses, ears and other pink spots. Dogs that are at particular risk are dogs who have been recently clipped; dogs with thinning hair because of a medical problem; light colored, short-hair dogs; black dogs; and older dogs who fall asleep in the sun."

Sunblock can be used to protect your pets. Murdock says, "Sun block should be at least SPF 15, plus should be applied more than 15 minutes before sun exposure." She notes that some experts recommend that zinc oxide not be used on pets.

Avoid midday exercise and hot pavement

Imagine jogging in your bare feet on blazing pavement at the hottest time of the day. Sounds awful, right? This situation would be just as horrible and harmful for your pet as it would be for you. If you're going to exercise your pet, consider some advice from the Humane Society of the United States. In a recent press release the organization wrote, "Take your walks in the early mornings or late evening, not in the heat of midday and remember that hot pavement can burn the pads of your dog's paws."

Know the symptoms of heatstroke

Dogs can suffer from heatstroke, so it's important to know which symptoms indicate that a pet is severely overheating. Sonia Charry, a blogger for PawPosse.com, says, "Excessive panting, drooling, high temperature and disorientation are signs that your dog is having heatstroke."

If your pet has these symptoms, she recommends calling your veterinarian immediately for help.

Above all, remember to use common sense this summer. If you have concerns that something is harmful or uncomfortable for your pet, trust your gut.

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