Keep your pet safe from summer heat - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Keep your pet safe from summer heat

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While 100-plus degree heat can be brutal for people, it might be even tougher on your pet.

With this weekend's excessive heat warning in effect, FOX5 has already received numerous complaints about people leaving pets outdoors during the day with little water or shade.

FOX5 spoke at length with local veterinarian Dr. Terry Muratore about the dangers your pets face in the heat and how to prevent them from becoming sick or even dying.

"Heat is heat. People have a misconception that dogs and cats respond to heat differently. They don't. They actually have a few more challenges that we don't. One is that they don't perspire, per say. They blow a lot of heat by panting," he said.

Though the heat can be dangerous for any dog, some breeds handle it better than others.

"There are significant differences in breeds and their ability to handle heat. For instance, a Doberman with a very long snout can handle heat better than a pug or a bulldog with a very short snout. They can overheat in a matter of minutes," Muratore said.

It might not occur to you, but even taking your dog for a midday stroll can be dangerous in the southern Nevada heat.

"Walking along the street - if you can walk down the street barefoot, along the sidewalk, it's OK to walk your dog. Even though they have pads that are tougher than the normal skin, they're not conditioned to tolerate that heat and can burn quickly," Muratore said.

One thing you most certainly want to avoid is leaving a pet in a hot car, even for a short time.

"It just amazes me. Every summer we hear stories about children and pets that are kept in closed cars. A car can get to be a microwave in a matter of minutes, and if you don't catch them quick enough, they're going to succumb to it," Muratore said. "It's not a pleasant death."

If you have errands to do during the day and you must take your pet, Muratore said there are a lot more options for taking your pet with you.

"More and more, establishments are catering to people bringing their pets in. Bottom line, if it's hot and you have [no way to] take them out of the car, leave them home," Muratore said.

Even your home can be dangerous to pets during the dog days of summer if you don't take the necessary precautions.

"This time of year, 80 degrees is fine. Set it at 78, make sure you have water. You can leave a fan running, a ceiling fan. Make sure they have water and shade," Muratore said.

Some people believe the key to keeping pets cooler during the summer is taking the clippers out, something Muratore said is false.

"A common misconception that people have on longhaired dogs is that by shaving them it makes them cooler. Actually, the opposite is true. If you have a longhaired dog and you shave all that hair off, you increase their sensitivity. You increase their risk of heat exhaustion, because that coat acts as an insulator," Muratore said.

If your pet does succumb to the heat, there are some things you need to do right away.

"If you suspect your dog is overheated, the most important thing is to lower the body temperature. Douse them with plenty of water, saturate them. Pour water over them. If there's a swimming pool, get them soaking wet. Get them to the vet as soon as possible," Muratore said. 

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