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Tips for caring for pets in hot weather

June 19, 2008 |  1:14 pm

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Think it's a little early in the season to be coping with triple-digit temperatures? We do too. But they're here, and in addition to stocking up on bottled water and sunscreen and increasing your carbon footprint with extra air conditioning, it's best to remember that pets need some extra thought as well. Denise Flaim of Newsday lists a few tips and products:

1. Autopilot. Everyone knows -- or at least they should know -- that parked cars can become death traps in a matter of minutes, even on a mild summer day. But sometimes less obvious places, such as outdoor kennels, might get too hot to handle. For peace of mind, invest in a remote wireless thermometer that lets you monitor temperatures from afar. Radio Shack offers some models that start at $30.

2. Pass the lotion. Hairless dogs, such as Chinese cresteds need ample doses of sunscreen to avoid crisping. (Use a dog-specific brand to avoid toxicity from dogs licking the stuff off.) White cats, or those with white on their ears or faces, are also at risk of sunburn, as well as squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer that often appears on the nose and ear tips.

3. Well-timed exercise. Weather or not, exercising dogs on extremely hot days is a definite no-no. (If you must, go out in the early morning or late evening.) But if you own an animal that is brachycephalic -- a 50-cent word meaning "flat-faced" -- be exceedingly careful: Bulldogs, pugs, Persian cats -- all are more prone to sunstroke than their more normal nosed counterparts. Keep them cool at all costs.

4. Hair today. Breeds that hail from Northern climes, such as malamutes and huskies, also appreciate air conditioning. Do not make the mistake of "shaving down" such dogs in an attempt to keep them cool. Not only does it make them look totally bizarre, but their coats actually provide some insulation from the heat. Do keep long-coated dogs and cats well-groomed and free from mats, so air can circulate around them more effectively.

5. Paws and reflect. For animals who spend time outdoors, reflective fabric can deflect sun and heat. Durable, lightweight and rot resistant, shiny, futuristic-looking silver mesh is available in sizes that fit over exercise pens, kennels, even the dogs themselves. Check out silvershademesh.com, or call (507) 893-3646.

6. Water, water everywhere. Make sure the wet stuff is readily available. Cats in particular appreciate running water. Gizmos such as the Drinkwell Pet Foundation consistently get a thumbs-up from owners. I can only presume the cats concur.

7. It's a breeze. Battery-operated crate fans that clip onto the front of your dog's crate can help with air circulation. Some models allow you to add a freezer-pack insert to up the cool-down factor. Go to elitek9. com, or call (270) 554-5515.

8. Be aware. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which include uncontrollable panting, staggering, salivating, weakness and confusion. Get to the vet as quickly as possible.

Photo: Associated Press

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