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In hot weather, special care urged for pets

As temperatures and humidity rise, people find relief any waythey can, but they often forget their four-legged companions.

Local veterinarians urge residents to take special care of petsduring the summer months.

“I guess the main concern is going to be heat exhaustion or heatstroke when it’s so hot,” said Dr. Greg Howell, a veterinarian atAnimal Medical Center.

Lincoln County veterinarians have already seen several cases ofheat exhaustion, and say more could come if residents do not takeextra precaution for their pets.

Veterinarians agree that one way to prevent heat exhaustion isto keep animals out of the heat as much as possible. This includesmaking sure outside pens are adequately shaded.

Pet owners should also pay more attention to temperatures whenthey decide to involve their pet in activities.

“They need to pick appropriate times to play with their dog,like they don’t need to go out and throw the ball around with thedog in the middle of the afternoon,” said Dr. Linda Farris-Smith, aveterinarian at Animal Health Center.

Keeping fresh water for inside and outside pets is also anextremely important prevention method. Water should be placed in aclean container and changed each day or every other day.

Pet owners need to check their pet’s food and water supplyfrequently for contamination, added Farris-Smith.

Many pet owners mistake the reasons an animal is not eatingproperly, thinking the pet is not hungry. But it could be thatinsects, such as fire ants, have gotten into the food or water, shesaid.

Grooming is another area pet owners should pay close attentionto, as thick-coated animals suffer even more during the summer.

“We recommend they be shaved in the summer time for two reasons:heat control and control of external parasites, like fleas andticks,” said Howell.

Thick-coated pets, along with large animals and pug-nosed dogs,are more susceptible to problems associated with heat and humidity,according to Howell.

Pets accompanying owners during travel is also a concern forveterinarians.

“The big thing is people who travel with their pets should notleave them in the car,” said Farris-Smith. “They (pets) can’t makeit very long in the hot cars and cracking the window is notsufficient.”

Some signs of an animal suffering from heat-related problems areexcessive panting, an increase in body temperature, restlessness,thick saliva and blood shot eyes.

Veterinarians say animals should be rushed immediately to thenearest animal care facility when heat exhaustion is suspected.