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Keep pets comfortable in warm weather

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Men and women anticipate the arrival of warmer weather in the same way children look forward to Christmas morning. With a snowier-than-usual winter and chilly start to the spring in many regions, summertime sun and heat might be more coveted than ever before. 
While many individuals have been counting down the days until 85-degree weather, pets may not have been sharing the same enthusiasm. The hot weather can bring discomfort to our four-legged friends.
It's widely known that keeping a dog chained up outdoors in the sun and heat is cruel, as is keeping him locked in a car while running errands. However, there are many other factors that come into play regarding keeping pets cool and comfortable when the mercury rises.
Unlike humans, pets cannot simply shed layers of clothes to cool down. Nor do they have the communication skills to tell people to turn up the air conditioning. It's up to pet parents to be in tune with their pets' needs and provide what they require. In order to keep pets content when the weather is warm, consider these suggestions.
* Cool down. Have a source of water for pets to use to cool down. This may be a retired baby pool, a misting hose, even a damp towel that can be used to rub over a pet's coat. Be sure this water source doesn't pose a drowning threat (i.e., don't leave a pool of water around young children or puppies).
* Offer shade. The shade can reduce temperatures by several degrees. When spending considerable time outdoors, have a shady spot to which both people and pets can retire. If a pet is an outside animal, be sure there is a covered area that will offer generous shade.
* Provide cold water to drink. Pets can become dehydrated and suffer from heatstroke just like humans can. Some animals will avoid a bowl of water if it has heated from being outside. Be sure to regularly refresh water bowls so that animals have cool, refreshing water to drink.
* Watch for hot feet. A person who has walked barefoot across hot pavement knows just how painful it can be. Although the pads of dogs' feet are thicker than human skin, they are sensitive as well. Too much walking across hot surfaces can burn the pads. Check regularly for redness and gauge your pet's comfort level while walking. If he is limping or showing distress, it's time to cut the walk short.
* Prickly foes. Seeds from foxtails and other grasses tend to be barbed and sticky. Cats and dogs may inhale these seeds or have them lodge in their paws and coats. If a pet seems to be under duress after being outdoors, grass lawns and burrs could be the culprit. Seek assistance from a veterinarian.
* Keep it cool. Don't turn off the air conditioning simply because you won't be home. If it's incredibly hot indoors, pets will become uncomfortable. Keep a ventilation source available, such as an open window, turned-on ceiling fan or leave the A/C set to low.
* Leave water out.  An indoor water bowl is a necessity, too. Check before leaving the house that there is plenty of water available to all pets.
* Offer comfort. Summertime often comes with loud thunderstorms, motorcycles passing by or fireworks. These loud noises can startle pets. Routinely check on animals to be sure they aren't frightened or doing damage to the house from being scared. If you will be out, have a neighbor check on the pet. A radio left on or a television can help mask the summer sounds and soothe a scared pet.
* Groom the pet. Talk with a groomer to decide on a cut that's comfortable for the pet. While many people assume shaving off all fur is the best option, fur actually insulates an animal. Removing it all can put the pet at risk for sunburn. 
Other Tips
* Walk dogs early in the morning and in early evening so that the jaunts take place when the weather is cooler.
* If you'll be taking a dog along on a hike during warm weather, be sure to pack enough water for both of you.
* Consider the use of dog booties to protect pads from hot pavement.
* Dogs may not be allowed on beaches during the summer tourist season. Check ahead before planning a seaside adventure.
* Warm weather helps parasites multiply. Don't keep food left out or it may attract bugs and become spoiled.
* Check with a vet about medications that can ward off ticks and fleas, which tend to be in full force during warm weather.
For more summertime health tips for a pet, consult with a veterinarian or visit  
CAPTION: Dogs may enjoy the warm weather, but pets should take it easy when it's especially hot outside.