Pets need special care during heat waves, group says

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Many pet owners might not realize that high temperatures can be worse on their furry friends, who don't have the option of stripping down to their cargo shorts.

The Berkshire Humane Society is reminding pet owners to be mindful of their pets' activities and whereabouts during the weekend heat wave. Temperatures are expected to head north of 90 and humidity will drive an even higher heat index.

In that scenario, it is extremely important to keep pets indoors, out of the sun and hydrated.

If they must spend time outside, they need access to shade, even as the sun moves across the sky, and plenty of water along with ice cubes. A kiddie pool would help for dogs that enjoy playing in water, but make sure that water bowls and pools are in shaded areas, animal welfare advocates say.

Keep walks short, and avoid hot sidewalks and pavement, since these surfaces can burn paws. Take walks in the early morning or in late evening. Limit outdoor play.

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While inside, keep shades drawn and make sure pets have access to the coolest rooms.

Most importantly, never leave a pet inside a car, the society says, even with windows cracked or with the air conditioning running. On average, the inside temperature of a car on a warm day is more than 20 degrees hotter than outside the car. On a hot day, this temperature increase will be even greater. The heat rise occurs within minutes, and extreme heat can quickly kill your pet or cause irreversible organ damage.

Animals respond differently to heat than humans. Dogs pant and sweat through their feet, therefore fans do not adequately cool them. Outdoor dog houses restrict airflow and can be deadly. The society recommends making arrangements for your pets if you must be away from home or cannot keep them with you.

When exposed to extreme temperatures, pets can experience heatstroke. According to the Humane Society of the United States, heatstroke is characterized by "heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness."

For more information: humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pets_safe_heat_wave.html.


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