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How to Keep Your Pets Cool During the Dog Days of Summer

Jul 19, 2016 10:29PM ● Published by Doug Erlien

Dogs play at Fish Lake Dog Park

During the hot summer days, we often look for ways to cool off. But, what about the four legged friends?

Dogs play at Fish Lake Park

Dog owners, Kat Ottoson and Dr. Mark Goodell were sitting at a table at the Fish Lake Regional Park off-leash dog area watching their pets make their way around the park a day before a heat warning went into place. Even on then, there wasn’t as much energy and play as usual.

“When it’s that hot, we don’t go outside as much,” Ottoson said. “We’ll go for short little walks and then go back in and make sure he’s got plenty of water.”

When it comes to warning signs that your pet is suffering from heat stroke, symptoms can vary, but should be taken seriously. 

“The pet may be unsteady on its feet or seem 'drunk' and confused and the gums may either be bright red or turn blue or purple,” Dr. Jamie Hartman of Heritage Animal Hospital in Maple Grove said. “Panting and restlessness progressing to increased salivation, lethargy, unresponsiveness or seizures can also be warnings.”

Dr. Goodell, owner and Veterinary Practice Director at 
Fort Road Animal Clinic in St. Paul, has
Dogs play at Fish Lake Park

  seen pets struggle with heat related illnesses.

“Even when people try to walk early in the morning, it’s the humidity.” Dr. Goodell said. “They [the pets] can get overheated because they’ll keep going because you do.”

Dr. Hartman added that pets considered “brachycephalic” (those with smushed faces such as Pekingese or Pugs) and those with other illnesses or obesity are more prone to heat stroke.

“Try to decrease the length of activity,” Dr. Hartman said. “Pets cool via evaporation, usually by panting. When the humidity is high, it is harder for them to cool off.”

According to Dr. Hartman, here are some tips to keep your pets cool in the heat. 
  • Offer fresh water at all times
  • Provide shade when outdoors
  • Try to limit outdoor time
  • Take walks at dawn/dusk when cooler
  • Limit outdoor activity
  • Have fans or share the air conditioning
  • Leave pets at home
  • Do NOT leave pets in cars
  • Offer kiddie pools to wade in if your pet can swim
Editor's note: What tips do you have for keeping your pets cool in the heat? Share them in comments below.


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