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Bentley & Friends: Staying Safe in the Heat

Now is the time to make sure you know the basics of heat safety when it comes to your dogs.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Summer is here, and along with the change of seasons comes the heat and humidity for which Hampton Roads is known.

Being outdoors in the middle of the day can turn into a really uncomfortable situation: highs in the 90s, dew points in the 70s, heat index values (or the "feels like" temperature) soaring into the triple digits.

While we're tending to ourselves and making sure we’re staying hydrated and cool, we MUST be attentive and recognize when the heat is getting to be too much for our dogs.

First, we need to realize that dogs cool themselves differently than we do.

“Dogs have sweat glands on their paw pads and that’s it they actually keep themselves cooler by respirations, by evaporating that moisture out of their lungs, so that’s why they’ll pant and pant hard so they are prone to have issues,” said Dr. Denette Cooke, a veterinarian in Chesapeake.

That panting can be the first sign that your dog isn’t handling the heat well. There are others.

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“What will happen is that tongue will come out further and hang out further and further from the mouth, and then, that whole leading edge of the tongue will get like a spoon like a ladle, and they’re trying to get the heat off of them," Cooke explained.

Also, watch their eyes. If they become buggy and pull back, that's a sign of distress.

Once you recognize your dog is in distress, it's imperative you cool them down quickly.

“You may want to call somebody, head to an ER, call your vet and see what they recommend, and often, what we are going to do is wet the dogs down with cool water and put a fan on them, use a convection current to pull that heat away from the body," said Cooke.

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There are ways to ensure that your pup stays comfortable in the summer. One is controlled easily by you: the time of day you take them for walks. Avoid the afternoon, and try for early morning and evening. In the afternoon, a pavement can be like a stove top and can cause some serious damage to your dog's pads.

One other thing -- and it's unfortunate we need to remind folks each year -- DO NOT leave your dogs in the car, even if its just for a short time, 

Taking all these steps will ensure that you and your pup get through the hottest months cool as a kitten.