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Animal Attraction: Helping Pets Keep Cool

by Stacy Fox

Posted on August 3, 2010 at 6:01 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 3 at 6:09 AM

The Houston area will see more hot weather today with a high of 98 degrees and afternoon heat indices up to 107.  The Houston SPCA offers these helpful hints to help prepare your pet beat  the summer heat.

HOT CARS/HEATSTROKE. Always leave your pet at home and NEVER leave a pet in a parked car. The temperature inside a car, even with the windows cracked and parked in the shade, can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes. If the air becomes too warm, a dog’s body temperature, normally 100.5 to 102.5 degrees, will continue to rise. If it exceeds 106 degrees, heatstroke could result, causing seizures, organ damage and even death.

Signs of heatstroke include: (but are not limited to): excessive body temperature, excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staggering, stupor, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, and coma. If you suspect heatstroke in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately! 

Pick-up Trucks: One of the most dangerous ways to transport your pet is in the bed of a pick-up truck. Countless animals are thrown from the back of trucks each year, and some are dragged down the highway if attached to the inside of the truck bed with a chain. In the heat of summer, the bed of a truck can become a skillet, causing severe burns to the pads of their feet. Transport your animal in a secured carrier or in the cab of the pick-up truck.

HEARTWORM PREVENTATIVE. Both dogs and cats should be on heartworm preventative year round. Heartworms are potentially fatal parasites spread through the bite of just one infected mosquito. During the summer months, heartworm preventative is especially important due to the increased mosquito population.

EXERCISE. On very hot days, limit a pet’s jog or walk to the early morning or evening hours. Keep in mind that asphalt gets very hot and can actually burn your pet’s paws.

SHELTER. It’s best to leave your pet inside your air-conditioned home. If your pet must stay outside, make sure he / she has adequate shelter with access to plenty of cool, fresh water and shade.

VACCINATIONS. Your pet should be up-to-date on all vaccinations. If you are planning a vacation and your pet will be boarded, make sure to speak with your veterinarian if there are any additional vaccines they would recommend for the kennel environment.

FLEAS/TICKS. Fleas are a common problem, but it is possible to get rid of and prevent further infestations. Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate product for your animal and follow all instructions exactly. Many accidental poisonings and deaths happen each year because people use the wrong product on their pet.

WATER/BEACH SAFETY. Many people head to the beach, lake or pool to escape the heat and humidity. Remember that not all dogs are excellent swimmers. Always supervise your dog near the pool.  At the beach, a strong undertow or riptide can drag a frolicking pet out into the Gulf. Make sure you bring lots of fresh water for your pet to drink. Rinse any sand, salt or chlorine off your pet as soon as possible.

HERBICIDES/PESTICIDES. Plant food, fertilizer and insecticides can be fatal to a pet if ingested. Pet owners should read labels carefully and contact manufacturers for specific recommendations about using certain herbicides and pesticides around pets.

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