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Animal experts remind pet owners that prevention is the best cure when it comes to keeping four-legged friends safe and healthy through the warm summer months.

QUESTION: What should pet owners do to keep their four-legged friends safe during the hot summer months?

Summer is here, and Arizona’s hot summer weather can cause health risks for pets. Animal experts remind pet owners that prevention is the best cure when it comes to keeping four-legged friends safe and healthy through the warm summer months.

ANSWER: “Pets do not have the ability to sweat, which can cause them to get dangerously overheated,” said Phaydra Adams, an animal control officer with the City of Sierra Vista. “Animals can dehydrate quickly, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of fresh, clean water and access to shade at all times.”

Adams advises pet owners to limit exercising during the hotter times of the day.

“Any exercise while it’s hot outside is not a good idea,” she said. “The best times to exercise your dogs are in the morning and evening hours.”

Along with the risk of overheating from soaring temperatures, hot asphalt can cause damage to a dog’s pads, warned Adams. She advises dog owners to touch the pavement before taking dogs on walks.

“If it’s too hot to the touch, it’s too hot to your dog’s pads.”

A better option is to keep dogs on grass, or try using special booties to protect their sensitive feet.

Awareness of distress signs is also key.

“Know the early symptoms of overheating — excessive panting and lethargy — and when you’re concerned that an animal may be overheated, find a cool place and provide your dog with plenty of water.”

In more advanced situations, overheating can lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke, a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary care.

This is especially true if considering taking your dog out for a trip.

“Never leave your pet in a parked car. Temperatures in parked cars, even in the shade with the windows down, rise quickly,” Adams warned.

According to the Humane Society of the United States website, on mild days with temperatures in the 70s, the inside of a parked car can reach 120 degrees in minutes, creating a dangerous, even deadly, environment for pets.

“We advise people to leave their dogs at home when out running errands.”

Providing a wading pool in the backyard is a popular cooling off option in the summer months for your canine friend, Adams said.

“I have a stubborn older dog who enjoys being outdoors, so I have a kiddie pool for him. I also have misters in the shady part of my patio, which my dogs love.”

Adams said her dogs always have access to a covered, shady patio area with plenty of water whenever they’re outdoors.

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