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Keeping your pets cool in the hot summer sun

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 9:45 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - With the heat index in the triple digits this week it is important to keep a close watch on your friends, family and pets.

Dr. Kelly Baete is a veterinarian with Baxter Veterinarian Clinic. She says your four-legged friends will likely succumb to heat exhaustion or heat stroke before you do.

“Dogs can overheat very easily in this weather,” Dr. Baete explained. “Heat is even more dangerous because dogs and cats don’t sweat the way people do.”

Dr. Baete says a dog’s footpads are the only part of its body that sweats, but even that is not a great cooling mechanism. Otherwise, dogs rely on panting to cool themselves down.

“Their only method of getting rid of that extra heat is from panting,” Dr. Baete said. “So, if you see a dog with their mouth open, tongue hanging out, they are really trying to cool themselves down.”

Dr. Baete says some dogs are more prone to heat exhaustion than others because of their facial composition. For example, she says dogs with smaller faces, such as boxers, bulldogs, and Boston terriers, will heat up more quickly than dogs with larger faces.

“Those dogs that have little, short noses, they really struggle in the heat. Because they have a lot of extra things to do with their facial confirmation that makes it even harder for them to breathe,” Dr. Baete said.

When the temperature gets to be dangerously hot, she recommends walking your dog early in the morning or in the evening.

If your dog starts showing signs of heat exhaustion, she recommends getting them into a shaded place, hosing them down with cool water, and getting them in front of a fan or in air conditioning.

To know if your dog is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion, pay attention to how their panting sounds.

“If they really seem like their tongue is just really hanging out,” Dr. Baete said. “If they’re making a lot of noise, if it sounds raspy when they’re panting, if they’re gums look really bright pink or red, that’s a bad sign.”

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