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Remember Furry Friends During Heat Wave

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RALEIGH — Humans who complain about summer's heat can often escape into air conditioning, grab a cold drink or put a wet towel to their brow. Not so for our dogs and cats. It's up to us to help them safely through days of skyrocketing temperatures.

First, never leave a pet in a car or other poorly ventilated enclosure when it is 78 degrees or hotter. In five minutes, a 78-degree closed car can shoot to 90 degrees, and hit 110 in 25 minutes.

Exercise dogs early in the day or after the sun goes down. Remember that when you run, you are shod. Dogs and cats deal directly with hot pavement, gravel, and tar turned sticky by the heat. The pads of their paws can be hurt by such exposure.

Provide cool water to pets. If a dog is kept outdoors, remember that a water bowl, though filled, should be put in a shady spot. Caring dog owners often forget that water left in the sun can quickly become much too hot for their dogs to drink.

Also check periodically to make sure the animal hasn't inadvertently turned over the water bowl.

Dogs also need a shady place to rest if they are kept outdoors.

Heat stress can affect animals, especially puppies, kittens, short-nosed breeds, and those that are overweight or have heart or breathing disorders.

If you see that your pet is panting rapidly, fails to respond to commands, has a rapid heartbeat, or an anxious or fixed expression, the dog may be experiencing heatstroke. Immerse the animal in cool water or spray it with a garden hose to lower the body temperature. Get the dog veterinary attention promptly.

And when temperatures get very high -- or low, for that matter -- pets normally kept outdoors would appreciate being brought into the house, a garage or other, more comfortable, spot.


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