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Hot days prompt warning from Humane Society about pets

Dogs can
Dogs can't sweat through their skin to get cool.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

With temperatures expected to soar into the 90s this week, the Bellevue-based Seattle Humane Society is reminding pet owners to keep their furry friends safe from the summer heat.

Going for a long drive with your best friend is one of the joys of summer, but even in Seattle, the interior of a car can hit 160 degrees in less than five minutes. Society officials cautions that merely parking in the shade with the windows cracked just won't do it.

Heat stroke develops rapidly and can lead to severe problems like organ failure and even death. Pets with shorter noses, like bulldogs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heatstroke than breeds with longer noses as there is less area for heat to evaporate, society officials say.

"Dogs and cats don't sweat through their skin," says Brenda Barnette, CEO for the Seattle Humane Society. "They cool themselves by rapid breathing and when the temperature outside is hot and close to their internal body temperature, it means animals must work even harder to stay cool. So when it's hot for you, it's even hotter for them!"

Signs of heat stroke in a pet include heavy panting, agitation, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, staggering, vomiting and a deep red or purple tongue.

Officials say that if an animal becomes overheated, place him in a cool place and apply cool (not cold) water all over his body. Apply ice packs or cold towels only to the head, neck and chest. Let him drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes and take him immediately to a veterinarian.

They also advise not waiting to see if the pet improves - that it's always better to be safe than sorry.

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