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Georgia Department of Agriculture

Hot summer months put cats & dogs at risk

Friday, June 21, 2013

As Georgians celebrate summertime across the state, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black wants to remind residents about the importance of keeping cats and dogs safe and healthy as the temperatures rise.

“During the hot summer months, cats and dogs are most at risk,” said Commissioner Black. “To help keep pets healthy through the next few months, there are some common-sense approaches that are important for people to remember.”

When outdoors, make sure your dog has access to a shaded, well-ventilated area out of direct contact with the sun’s rays. Cats should be kept indoors for their health and for the safety of birds and wildlife. If an animal is confined to your home, you will want to make sure that the space does not get too hot and/or offers shade.

Just like humans, pets consume more liquids during the summer months. Clean, fresh and cool water is especially critical in helping pets maintain a healthy core body temperature. Your pet will choose not to drink hot water; a water supply should remain cool and be available at all times.

During the summer months, you would never opt to stay in a hot vehicle when the engine wasn’t running. By the same token, never leave your pet (even for a short period of time) in a parked vehicle. On a day when it is 85 degrees outside, it takes just 10 minutes for the inside of a vehicle to rise over 100 degrees, even with the windows open an inch or two.

You should not encourage or train your pet to participate in strenuous activities during hot months. While you may want to run the Peachtree Road Race this summer, your pet’s body regulates temperatures differently. Also help your pet avoid prolonged contact with asphalt or concrete, as these surfaces may burn paw pads. You wouldn’t want to run on a hot road without shoes, either!

Dogs with short snouts (such as Pug, English bulldog and Pekinese breeds) are especially vulnerable to high temperatures. You may want to choose to walk your pet in the early mornings or evenings, avoiding the noonday sun and the highest temperatures of the day. Treat your dog to the comfort of air-conditioning when you can afford to do so.

Fleas and ticks are always an issue and, while they are unwanted year-round, they are more active during summer months. It is a good idea to consult your veterinarian on how to best keep these pests from infesting your pets and your home.

Consider giving long-haired pets shorter haircuts to keep them cooler in the summer. Cats and dogs can get sunburned, so be cautious in how close your pet’s hair is groomed. Short-hair dogs and/or those with light colored coats are especially susceptible to sunburn.

In order to love and provide care for every cat and dog in Georgia, it is also essential to have your pet spayed or neutered. This safe and healthy procedure can help keep your pet closer to home and help them avoid potentially life-threatening situations.

To receive information on Georgia’s Dog and Cat Sterilization Program and to see images of the spay-neuter specialty license plates, visit www.agr.georgia.gov or call 404-656-3667.

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