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Thirty-eight kids and countless pets die in hot cars every year, all of which are classified as preventable deaths. The internal temperature of a car can climb 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, according to the North Carolina Consumers Council, and dogs can die of a heat stroke in just 15 minutes. Cracking windows doesn't help, so motorists should never leave a child or dog in a hot car for any length of time, and if they see someone who has, they should remain with the car until the situation is resolved and the child or pet is safe.

Dear Readers:

It took a bit of time, but summer is finally here! I’ve been asked by several clients to remind pet owners about the potential dangers to pets during the warmer months. Knowing that the health and safety of your pets is always a priority, here are my top ten tips to keep your pets as safe as possible during this summer season.

1. Never leave your pet in a hot car! Milder temperatures can be misleading and the inside of a car can be 20-30 degrees higher even with the windows open. Any period of time in a hot car, no matter how short, can push an animal into life threatening hyperthermia. Leave your pet at home if you feel like you are going to have to leave them in your car for any amount of time.

2. Make sure your pet always has access to fresh water. Water consumption increases with an increase in heat and activity and animals can get very sick if they are not allowed to drink freely. Making sure you have water in your car and a collapsible water bowl will ensure that you are always prepared.

3. With more outdoor activities and travel during the summer, it is important that your pet is protected from parasites such as ticks, fleas, heartworm and intestinal parasites. This can be done with advice from your veterinarian as to which products are most appropriate for your region and your individual pet.

4. Also, it is important that your pet is full vaccinated as with more animals outside and possible exposure to wild animals there is more of a risk of transmission of infectious diseases. Your veterinarian can talk you through what vaccines are important for your pet.

5. Protect your pet’s paws from the hot ground. We may not feel the hot pavement because we are typically wearing shoes, but you can be sure that your pet feels it. Their paws may be very tough, but they can burn on hot surfaces and they can also get damaged from rough ground. Avoiding hot surfaces and protecting the paws with booties can help prevent damage.

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6. With more people out and about in the summer, it is also important that you have control of your pet at all times. This means making sure you keep your dog on a leash in areas where there is a high volume of people, cars, wildlife, and other animals in order to avoid any confrontations and to stop your pet from running in front of a moving vehicle.

7. If your pet must be outside during the day in the heat, then providing a small,

8. A shaded baby pool full of cool water is a wonderful way for your pooch to cool off when you are not home. Filling it with ice water can provide a cooling environment all day.

9. Even with fur, some animals have very sensitive skin and can get a sun burn if they are exposed to too much sun. This is especially true in animals that have a thin hair coat or a very light colored hair coat. Sunscreen that is specifically made for animals can be purchased and should be applied to areas that have a higher exposure to sun.

10. Try to exercise your pets in the cooler hours, such as early morning or later in the evening, and do not over exercise your pets. If your pet has not been getting regular exercise through the year then taking them on a 10-mile hike is going to be too much for them. Slow increases in exercise are much better then abrupt increases.

11. Keep your pet safe around water. Not all animals can swim, so make sure your pet is fully restrained on boats or that they are wearing a safety vest to help keep them safe if they should fall in the water.

Have a safe and fun-filled summer with your furry friends!

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Dr. Julianne Miller is a Flagstaff veterinarian. She can be reached at drmiller@canyonpet.com

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