Pets need special care in heat

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June 30, 2011 - 12:00 AM

As the humidity and temperatures soar to near triple digits, pets are feeling the discomfort of the dog days of summer as much or more than their human families.
Heat exhaustion is more common in dogs than in cats. Dogs remain active during hot weather while a cat will seek out a cool place to escape the heat, said Dr. Richard Knewtson, owner of the Iola Animal Clinic.
Dogs cool themselves by panting, but if panting does not reduce the body temperature the dog could develop a heat stroke. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include rapid breathing, heavy panting, salivation, fatigue, muscle tremors and staggering.
If a dog exhibits any signs of a heat stroke immediately take him to a cool, shady place and apply wet towels or run a gentle stream of water from a hose to cool the body temperature.
The pet’s owner should try to try and cool the pet’s temperature before transporting to a veterinarian, because once a dog’s temperature goes between 105 and 110 degrees, time is critical, Knewtson said.
Walking a dog during the summer should be early in the morning or after the sun sets. Walks should be short. Just like humans, dogs need to be hydrated during exercise. Another consideration when walking a dog is if the payment is too hot for barefeet it’s too hot for a dog to walk on.
Hair acts as an insulation for the pet. If the owners chooses to trim or shave a dog during hot months they should remember that like humans a dog can sunburn, Knewtson.
Long-haired dogs should be brushed to remove matted hair which left unattended can cause hot spots on a dog. The warm most skin under the matted hair draws flies which lay eggs that hatch into maggots.
Once maggots are found on a dog the area should be shaved to rid the dog of the problem. If left unattended the maggots can bore into a dog’s skin causing numerous health problems requiring the services of a veterinarian.
An outdoor dog should be provided with a shady area and given fresh water daily. Moistening the ground in a shady area will provide a cool place for a lay. Doghouses should be placed in theshade and if dogs are in a pen a tarp may be placed on the pen for shade as long as there is ventilation.
A child’s wading pool is a good place for a dog to cool down during extreme heat.
If there is a family pool be sure a dog can get out of the pool by himself. A dog can’t climb a ladder. It is seldom that a dog will drown in a pool, but it is possible, Knewtson said.
“I don’t recommend any change in a pet’s diet during the summer. I would decrease the amount of calories. A pet doesn’t need extra calories during hot months as they do during the winter,” Knewtson said.
It is possible for a cat to become overheated but it’s not a common occurrence. Cats have long, lean bodies which helps to disperse the heat, Knewtson said.

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