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Keeping Your Pets Cool

It's summer time! A great time to be outdoors - enjoying the sunshine and warmth, but it's also the time that our pets are most at risk of overheating and heat stroke.

Heat stroke causes incredibly severe damage. Affected animals first appear excited, but then appear to lose their balance. Seizures occur and the body slips into a coma. Multi organ failure will then follow. The animal is at grave risk.

Emergency first aid is vital and you will need to get to a vet quickly. While you are contacting your vet, try to cool your pet by placing it in a room temperature (not iced) water bath or by hosing it. Place your wet animal in front of the fan and apply ice packs to its head.

Your veterinarian will need to give medication to control seizures and to prevent further damage to your pet's organs. He or she may give it a water enema to reduce the body temperature. It is likely that your pet will be placed on an intravenous drip. Your vet may also anesthetize your pet to prevent seizures.

Helping your pet to keep its cool this summer is vital and there are some tips to help you to do just that.

   1. Having your pet clipped is a good idea. Daily grooming to remove unwanted hair will make your pet more comfortable and will help it to shed excess heat. Grooming aids such as Slicker brushes and Zoom Grooms are designed to strip loose hair from your pet's coat and are very useful.

   2. Make sure your pets have adequate shade to rest in at this time of year. Have plenty of fresh water in the shade so that it remains cool. Dogs can only sweat through the pads of their feet and by panting. Evaporation from the wet surfaces of their mouth and nose helps lower body temperature.

   3. Freeze a cup or two of water and place them in your pet's water bowl in the morning to keep the water cool.

   4. Walk your dog in the cooler times of day, either early morning or late evening. Stop regularly to give your dog a rest and a drink, or even better a cooling swim.

   5. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws. Avoid walking on hot roads and sidewalks.

   6. Never leave your pet unattended in a hot car. Many say "I'm only going into the shop for a pint of milk - I'll be just a minute". The 'just a minute' extends very quickly if the shop is busy or if you happen to meet a talkative friend. On a 70F day, the car temperature can rise above 130F in only minutes. The highest temperatures are reached in dark colored cars with large glass areas.

   7. Pets can get sunburned too! Your pet may require sunscreen on his or her nose and ear tips. Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer.
   8. Take care taking your dog to the beach. Ensure that your pet can find shade or bring a beach umbrella or shade structure. Always remember to take fresh water along as drinking salt water can dehydrate your dog.

   9. Short nosed breeds of dogs, such as Bull Dogs, Pugs and the Pekingese, are very susceptible to heat stress. Overweight dogs and cats are at higher risk as are pet's with thick coats. Dogs or cats with poor circulation, very old animals and dogs with any respiratory disease are also susceptible.

Heat stress is a major concern over summer but a little common sense is all that is required to help your pets keep their cool and stay healthy!

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