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Panting is one of the ways that dogs can cool themselves during hot summer temperatures.

The summer can be a hard time for pets to be outdoors, so when the temperatures rise, it is important to take the appropriate precautions.

Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so make sure they always have plenty of fresh, clean water available. They also should have access to shade, should not be overexercised and should be kept indoors when it’s extremely hot.

Dogs with flat faces, like pug and bulldog varieties, are more susceptible to heat stroke because they cannot pant as effectively. These breeds, along with older animals, those who are overweight and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool inside as much as possible.

Symptoms of overheating in pets include:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weakness
  • Disorientation
  • Collapse or loss of consciousness
  • Seizure
  • Bloody diarrhea and vomit
  • Elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees

Here are some ways to keep the pets cool this summer.

LEAVE PETS AT HOME: If Fido cannot get out of the car with you at your destination, leave him home. When temperatures rise outside, they soar inside a vehicle.

Just as with children, pets should never, under any circumstances, be left unattended in a vehicle. Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states.

Dogs are extremely vulnerable to heat-related illnesses because they can cool off only by panting and through the pads in their feet. Being left in a car, even one that is parked in the shade or with the windows cracked, can compromise a pet’s health in a short time.

Think about this: It may be 72 degrees outside, but a car’s internal temperature can rise to 116 degrees within 20 minutes. Leaving the windows cracked will not help; studies have shown that this has little effect on a car’s internal temperature. Parking in the shade does not keep the car cooler.

A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death.

PRACTICE PET WATER SAFETY: Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool — not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on a boat.

After swimming, dogs should be rinsed off to remove chlorine or salt from the fur. Dogs also should not drink pool water as it contains chlorine and other chemicals.

KNOW WHEN TO WALK: When the temperature is high, don’t let the pets walk on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, a dog’s body can heat up fast and sensitive paw pads can quickly burn.

Keep walks to early morning or late evening, avoiding the hottest parts of the day.

SUMMER HAIRCUTS MATTER: While one may be inclined to trim a long-haired dog during the summer, they should never be shaved because the layers of its coat protect them from overheating and sunburn. As for felines, brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

BE AWARE OF OUTDOOR HAZARDS: Commonly used rodenticides and insecticides can be harmful to pets if ingested. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch products and insect coils away from pets. In addition, be sure any sunscreen or insect repellent products used on pets is labeled for animal use, and specifically your animal type.

Contact the veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if a pet comes in contact with a poisonous substance.


JUNE 16:?The Dog Days of Summer Yappy Hour at the Dog House Nola Restaurant and Bar, 2736 Banks St., New Orleans, will donate 20% of proceeds?from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. to Animal Rescue New Orleans. Meet adoptable dogs and learn more about volunteering and fostering. For more info:

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer manager for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For more information on ARNO, visit

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer manager for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For more information on ARNO, visit