Staying safe in the heat

I am reposting this article I did for The Local newspaper a couple of years ago as we experience the current heat wave:

We are experiencing a heat wave which is expected to last a few more days so extra care to make sure our dogs are safe is needed. Dogs have few sweat glands and must pant to cool down, and they are susceptible to heatstroke. Symptoms of heatstroke include skin that is hot to the touch, increased panting and salivation. This can progress to vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, collapse, and unconsciousness. Heatstroke is an emergency, and the dog needs to be removed from the heat and receive immediate veterinary attention. To avoid heatstroke, only exercise dogs when it is cool. Make sure the dog always has access to shade and drinking water and that he is not confined to an asphalt or concrete surface. Exercise caution when hiking with your dog. Ensure you have lots of water for the dog and that the hike is not too strenuous for the fitness level of the dog. Avoid using muzzles that inhibit the ability of the dog to pant. For dogs who need to wear a muzzle, a basket muzzle that allows them to drink, take treats, pant and bark is a good option. Every year warnings go out about the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot vehicle and, sadly, dogs (and children) still die in vehicles. A car stopped in hot weather can quickly magnify outside temperatures making it a deathtrap. In hot weather, pavement can get very hot. The pads of the dog’s feet can burn and blister on hot pavement. Additionally, dogs are close to the ground, and they can get much hotter than we do, so keep them away from pavement. Use paddling pools so the dog can go in and cool down. Other products that help are cooling mats and cooling vests available at local pet stores. Monitor play to be sure the dog is not overdoing things. Avoid hiking with dogs in the heat. Enjoy the warm weather and avoid the hazards to our dogs.

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