Pets relying on owners to help deal with heat

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Imagine walking around in the summer wearing a fur coat.

That's what cats and dogs do. During the dog days of summer, pets endure the same scorching temperatures as their owners, said Samantha Leavitt of the Humane Society of Missouri.

Pets rely on their owners to help them stay cool when the weather is hot. Leavitt offers a few tips to keep cats and dogs safe in the summer's sweltering heat.

Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. The temperature in a car can exceed 100 degrees in minutes.

Be sure outdoor pets have fresh, clean water at all times.

The sun's position in the sky changes, so ensure your pet has shade at all times of the day.

Keep pets' water in plastic bowls, not metal bowls, which conduct heat. Secure the bowls to the ground so the animal can't tip it over. You can dig a small hole and place the bowl inside for security.

If a pet is showing signs of heat exhaustion -- excessive panting, lethargic behavior -- apply cold water to the pet's extremities right away. Get the pet to a veterinarian immediately.

If you run or jog with your dog, take frequent water breaks for yourself and the dog. Remember that asphalt and concrete get hot quickly. On very hot days, leave the dog at home.

When the weather is dangerously hot, bring the pets inside. They appreciate air conditioning the same as people.

To report an animal in heat-related jeopardy, call the local humane society at 334-5837.

For more information on caring for pets during the summer, visit www.hsmo.org.

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