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Dog Days Of Summer

Dog Days Of SummerIn record high temps, people aren't the only ones in danger -- their pets are too, says a Tufts expert.

No. Grafton, Mass. [08.06.01] A blistering heat wave continues to blanket most of the country this week, raising concerns that the temperatures will continue to claim lives throughout the U.S.. Chicago already reported 21 fatalities from the heat this year, and a football player for the Minnesota Vikings collapsed and died on the practice field last week. But people aren't the only ones in danger during the "dog days of summer," says a Tufts veterinary expert. Their pets are too.

In an interview with CNN last week, Tufts' Steven Rowell said animals are just as sensitive to the heat as humans, if not more.

"Rowell says: If it's hot for you, it's hot for your animals," reported the international news network.

According to the veterinarian, who directs the University's hospitals for both large and small animals, many animals aren't able to cool off as easily as humans, putting them more at risk in the heat.

"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.

Just as for humans, water is extremely important to animals during hot weather. "If you don't get enough water, you may be in trouble before you know it," Rowell said.

And some large animals need lots of it. "Cattle on the range do pretty well. But you know a cow can drink 20-30 gallons per day," he said. "Water is crucial."

Rowell should know. According to CNN, "Rowell oversees a staff of some 200 people who annually treat roughly 21,000 small animals and 1800 large animals."

Rowell also oversees the University's 24-hour emergency critical-care center.

"We not only have people trained specifically in emergency critical care, but we also are one of the largest training programs in the country," he told CNN.

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