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Protect your animals during the 'Dog Days'

By AL SWANSON   |   July 25, 2010 at 7:00 AM   |   Comments

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CHICAGO, July 25 (UPI) -- They're called the "dog days" for good reason.

In mid-summer, when daytime temperatures often soar to triple digits pet owners have to worry about the health and safety of their furry friends. It's no exaggeration.

The temperature inside parked vehicle left outside in the sun can quickly soar from air-conditioned 72 degree comfort to 130 degrees in 15 or 20 minutes.

Leaving a window cracked to give your pooch or kitty some air simply is not adequate.

Animal control officials in Frederick County, Md., charged a woman who allegedly left her dog inside a car in a parking lot July 6 with animal cruelty. The air temperature was 104 F.

After she finished shopping, she returned and found the yellow lab dead. The Frederick News-Post said the woman allegedly went back inside the store to return pet supplies -- a 40-pound bag of dog food, dog biscuits and two dog beds -- she had just purchased. A store employee called police but she drove off before officers arrived and the newspaper said a woman matching her description, heavyset driving a Chevrolet Malibu, dropped off a dead dog at the Frederick County Animal Control Division.

Delta, a 14-year-old Labrador retriever, had done fine when she accompanied her owner on a cross-country flight from Washington State to West Virginia.

The woman was charged with misdemeanors punishable by three months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

She is lucky she wasn't in Seattle, where a person can be charged with first-degree animal cruelty, a Class C felony, punishable by as long as five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if a pet dies in a hot car.

Rock County authorities charged a Wausau, Wis., woman with cruelty to animals for leaving a 2-year-old pit bull in her car for more than four hours while she attended court in Janesville. The dog died.

Canines and felines don't sweat. They pant and drool to cool off. Dogs and cats with short-snouts (brachiocephalic), like pugs or Persian cats, are more at risk from heat exhaustion.

"A short-nosed breed, such as a Boston Terrier or a Boxer, is a lot more prone to heat stroke because they don't pant as effectively as those with normal-length noses," Amber Chenoweth, spokesperson for Pasado's Safe Haven, a Seattle-area animal rescue organization, told KING-TV, Seattle.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says about half of the 122 dog deaths reported by airlines since 2005 involved short-faced breeds like pugs, English bulldogs and American Staffordshire terriers.

DOT warns owners of short-faced breeds should consult a veterinarian before shipping the dog in a cargo crate on an airplane.

A Stanford University study found even on a mild day the temperature inside a car left in direct sun can reach 116 degrees in an hour, the San Diego Uptown News reported.

The Humane Society of the United States says it's best to exercise your dog early in the morning or in the evening during hot summer weather. If the pavement is too hot for a bare foot it's too hot for a dog's or cat's paws. When it's steamy and baking outside let your pets cool off inside and if they must be outside make sure shade and plenty of fresh water is available.

Symptoms of heat stoke include heavy panting, stupor, glazed eyes, a rapid heart rate, unsteadiness, staggering, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, or a temperature over 104 degrees.

If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion wrap it in cool, not cold, wet towels, offer ice cubes and water for licking and call the vet immediately.

"If it's hot and humid to you, it's hot and humid for them," Mary Kirlin, executive director of the Humane Society of Marathon County, Wis., told WAOW-TV, Wausau.

Animals with long coats can benefit from a bath or haircut, although dogs and cats can get sunburned.

"Avoid direct sunlight and keeping your pets outside too long in the extreme heat," Beth Recchia, owner of Furry Tails Grooming Salon and School of Pet Grooming in Hillsborough, N.J.,, said in an interview with Paw Nation. Animal noses, ear tips and paw pads can get burned by the hot sun. She recommended baby suntan lotion for short-haired or hairless breeds

The humane society asks if you walk by and see a pet left alone inside a hot parked car that you alert someone at a store, and if the owner doesn't return promptly, call animal control or the police.

In the sunny California desert, Animal Control Officer Hugh Wyatt told KPSP-TV, Palm Springs, he has rescued several animals from hot, locked vehicles this summer.

"That is the most tragic thing in the world," he said. "The animal is going to be in extreme distress in a matter of moments."

A team of British scientists came up with a novel way for dogs to cool off last weekend -- doggy ice cream. The London Evening Standard reports the cold confection sold from a roaming K-99 van comes in two flavors, "Dog Eat Hog World," a sorbet with chucks of ham and chicken, and "Canine Cookie Crunch," with dog biscuits mixed in the ice cream.

Ice cream works for me, too.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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