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Expert issues critical warning to pet owners dealing with extreme heat waves: 'People think it's OK'

One of the most important things you can do is learn the signs of heat exhaustion in dogs. 

Heat exhaustion in dogs

Photo Credit: iStock

"Hot dog!" is a joyous exclamation, at least until it refers to your actual dog who may, in fact, be dangerously hot. 

As our planet overheats, extreme weather events like heat waves are happening worldwide. Record temperatures are leaving humans and animals alike struggling to adapt. 

Unless we stop the human-caused overheating of our planet, it will only get hotter, so knowing how to manage the heat safely will become increasingly important to protect your pets. 

What can you do to keep your dog safe in extreme heat? 

Hot or not, your pet still needs to go to the bathroom and get exercise, and there are steps you can take to make sure they — and you — stay safe. 

If it's dangerously hot, only take them out early in the morning or later in the evening when it's coolest. You should avoid walking them during the middle part of the day when temperatures are highest and limit walks to 10-15 minutes. 

Remember that if you're struggling to be comfortable, so is your pet. Further, they don't have the protection from the elements that we do and can burn their paws on hot pavement. 

Consider booties for them and always check the pavement before allowing them to walk on it. Sarah Carotenuto, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, told The Washington Post that if you can't leave your hand on the pavement for five seconds without feeling too hot, then it's too hot for your dog's paws.

You should also be sure to bring plenty of water, even on a short walk, and possibly even use a spray bottle on them and help with heat evaporation. 

One of the most important things you can do is learn the signs of heat exhaustion in dogs. 

Lauree Simmons, the founder and president of Big Dog Ranch, a no-kill rescue shelter, told Time that early signs include redness around the eyes, darkening of the gums and tongue, and excessive salivating or panting.

Lastly, be sure to help dogs cool down once back inside by giving them lots of water — ice cubes can also be great — and wetting them down to help the heat evaporate from their bodies faster. 

Why is this important? 

Not only can extreme heat cause your dog to overheat and burn their paws, but not mitigating its effects can lead to death.

Tracey Miller, director of field operations for the Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix, told Time that while it used to be rare for a pet to die from heat, from May 1 to July 12 this year, her team had already seen seven instances of it. 

"People think it's OK to still take their dog for a walk in the middle of the day, and it really isn't," Miiller told Time. 

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