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Coping With Dog Days Of Summer

Coping With Dog Days Of SummerAs summer temperatures soar, people aren't the only ones at risk of heat stroke - their pets could be in harm's way too, says a Tufts expert.

No. Grafton, Mass. [07.15.02] As the country heads into the heart of summer, temperatures around the nation are expected to climb - putting people and their pets are risk. Last month, a Philadelphia police dog died from heat exhaustion, and more animals could follow if their owners aren't careful. Keeping pets cool during the dog days of summer can be easy, says a Tufts expert, with just a few simple steps.

In an report on ABC's website, experts from Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine said life threatening heat stroke among dogs "occurs when an overheated dog's body temperature soars from four to seven degrees above the normal range of 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit."

Excessive panting, weakness and loss of coordination are all signs that a dog may be overheated.

During last summer's record-breaking heat wave, Tufts' Steven Rowell - a veterinarian who directs Tufts' large and small animal hospitals - told CNN that many pets have a harder time keeping cooler than humans.

"Take a dog -- its physiology is different from ours," he told CNN. "Dogs don't sweat as we do. So they don't have as much capability for cooling as we do."

If they are inside with air conditioning, they should be fine, Rowell said. But when they are outside in high temperatures, dogs need extra attention.

"If you have an outdoor dog, this is where we run into most of the problems -- you can see cases when the dog can't get access to shade," Rowell said. Or water. "Maybe somebody puts water out, the dog drinks it and then nobody replenishes it for hours and hours, that's when we get into trouble," he said.

Cats do a little better in the heat. "Cats seem to find a cool place they can crawl into," Rowell told CNN.

To be safe, Rowell and other Tufts veterinary experts suggest keeping plenty of water on hand.

"If you don't get enough water, you may be in trouble before you know it," Rowell said.

The Tufts experts also caution pet owners not to shave their longhaired dogs in hot weather. "Hair coats operate as air-filled buffers shielding the dog's skin from heat," they wrote in a newsletter sent to police canine units around the country.

If a dog begins to show signs of heat stroke, the Tufts experts said pet owners should call a veterinarian immediately and try to cool down the animal.

"If you begin cooling your dog, use cool - not ice cold - water and a fan to bring the dog's body temperature down to 103 degrees," reported ABC.

Rowell -who oversees the University's 24-hour emergency critical-care center - told CNN that it is relatively easy to determine if a pet is at risk.

"If it's hot for you, it's hot for your animals," he said.

 

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