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How to Protect Dogs From The ‘Dog Days’ of Summer

Few things can be as refreshing as a quick dip in the pool on a hot summer day. Summer humidity can get to almost anyone, including the family dog. But while most members of the family can dive into the pool or take a cold shower to cool off, man’s best friend isn’t so lucky.

Keeping dogs cool in the summer should be a priority, as Fido certainly can’t ask for the air conditioner to be turned up. Recognizing the need to cool down dogs during the summertime, the American Animal Hospital Association offers the following tips to protect pooches throughout the summer months.

* Keep dogs out of the car. Temperatures inside a car can quickly reach 120 F, even on relatively mild summer days. So while your dog may be a great companion when running errands in the spring, winter or fall, leave him home in the summer.

* Keep dogs well groomed. Long hair should be trimmed and keep hair mats clipped to help dogs survive the summer heat. However, don’t shave down dogs to the skin because they may burn in the sun.

* Build a dog house. While many homeowners now invite the family dog into the house, there are still some who prefer man’s best friend live outdoors. Dog owners who keep their dogs outside should build adequate shelter that helps dogs survive midday heat and sun. Outdoor kennels should be well-ventilated and placed in a location that provides sufficient shade throughout the entire day, not just in the early morning or evening.

* Pay attention to your dog’s behavior. While Fido might not be able to tell you he’s hot, his behavior might be doing just that. Indicators of heat exhaustion include excessive panting, a blank or anxious expression, disobedience, rapid heartbeat, and vomiting. In addition, dry skin and high fever could be indicative of a dog that’s struggling with the heat. Dog owners should lower the dog’s body temperature by spraying cool water on the dog or immersing the animal in cool water whenever he exhibits any of these symptoms.

* Avoid excessive exercise. Dogs need exercise, but overexertion on hot days can lead to heat stress. On especially hot days, avoid excessive exercise and limit walks or time outside to early morning or evening hours.

* Take extra precaution when the dog is in the car. While it’s ideal to keep a dog out of the car in summertime, if you must bring him along be sure to be extra cautious. Open windows and vents as wide as possible without providing an escape route; or, put the dog in a well-ventilated cage inside the car and open the windows fully.