PET CORNER: Keep pets cool, comfortable during summer By Laverne Hughey, Humane Society of Harrison County Saturday, May 16, 2009 It is definitely summertime, with temperatures already reaching the 90s and sure to go even higher. "Summertime and the livin' is easy" is not always true for many dogs and cats. Dogs and cats can suffer from the same problems that humans do in hot, humid weather such as overheating, dehydration and even sunburn. By being aware of possible problems and taking simple precautions, our companion animals can bee comfortably cool and avoid serious weather-related problems. Small dogs that stay inside the home will not have problems, nor will the cats that live indoors. Outside pets can easily get into trouble on a hot, humid day. No matter to what a pet is accustomed, it should never, ever, be left in a vehicle during this hot weather. A dog should not be left in the back of a pickup truck, either. Even with car windows open slightly, temperatures that seem pleasant to people will rise dangerously high in a vehicle, often reaching well over 100 degrees. Pets can quickly suffer heatstroke. According to "Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition," heatstroke is a "serious failure of the body's heat-regulation mechanisms resulting from excessive exposure to intense heat and characterized by high fever, dry skin, collapse and sometimes convulsions or coma." According to the ASPCA, the right time for playtime is in the cool of the early morning or evening, but never after a meal or when the weather is hot and humid. Even though your dog may be accustomed to taking a walk or run with you, please consider that asphalt and concrete become extremely hot as temperatures rise. The dog's body can heat up rapidly and sensitive paw pads can burn. Walk your canine pal as early in the day as possible before the street or sidewalk has had time to heat up or wait until the pavement has cooled down in the evening. We should be especially thoughtful of pets that have reached their senior years, as well as overweight animals during the hot weather. If they absolutely cannot come inside to stay cool, be sure there is a shady spot in the yard for them. Dogs also enjoy wading in a child's shallow pool, which will help them keep cool if the pool is kept in the shade and the water changed daily. Pets with heart or lung diseases should be indoors in air-conditioned comfort a much as possible, especially at mid-day. This also applies to snub-nosed dogs, such as Pekingese, Boston terriers, bulldogs, Shit Tzus and Lhasas Apsos. Naturally, plenty of fresh, cool water should be available at all times for all outside pets. Food bowls should be remove as soon as the outdoor pets have finished eating as ants and other insects find the food almost immediately. If the dog or cat comes back for a second helping, it will have a very painful surprise with the first bite. Pet food left out during the night will attract raccoons and other wild animals. Fleas and ticks are sure to be plentiful this year, so consult with a veterinarian as to the best way to prevent them attacking your dog or cat. Mosquitoes are already painful, and if you dog or cat is not on heart worm preventative medication, take Sam or Sweetie to the veterinarian for a blood test to be sure he or she is not infected with heart worms and get your pal the preventative. Heart worm treatment is very expensive, therefore, prevention is definitely the way to go. Thinking of shaving the dog or cat? Not a good idea as the pet can easily suffer sunburn. Experts advise against shaving or clipping closer than one inch of hair. That way, the pet will be protected from the sun as well as insect bites. A hairless dog or cat is at the mercy of hungry, biting insects. The animal will no doubt be more miserable than if it had long hair. When in doubt, always ask the veterinarian.