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Keep Pets Safe in the Heat

10 tips to keep your dog, cat or bird comfortable all summer long

Slow it down. When the temperatures are high, tone done the exercise routine and conduct dog walks and play time during early morning or evening hours to avoid the heat.

Give TLC for these VIPs. Pets with dark coats (Black Labradors and Dobermans), thick coats (Huskies and Collies), pushed-in faces (Persians, Pugs, Boxers and Bulldogs) and hairless breeds (Sphynx and Chinese Crested) are more susceptible to heat-related issues — and the hairless ones need to wear sunblock! Place cool, not ice cold, wet towels on their bellies to help them cool down.

Ice, ice, baby. Place ice cubes in water bowls and locate the bowls in a few places inside your home away from sunny spots. Or provide access to automatic water fountains that deliver cool, fresh water.

Make a (safe) splash. Transform your backyard into a water wonderland for your dog. Consider converting your outdoor garden hose into a fun water fountain. Some fountains allow your dog to step on the paw pedal to get a cool drink. Or, let them frolic in a kiddy pool in your backyard. The One Dog One Bone website offers paw-shaped and bone-shaped pools that are as durable as truck bed covers, capable of holding up to 20 gallons of water and purposely white in color to absorb less light and stay up to 10 degrees cooler than black pools. For dogs who love to swim, fit them with life vests that come with handles to keep them afloat and prevent them from sinking when they get tired. Some vests also can be used as a rain coat.

Go for a summer 'do. Have a professional pet groomer give your pet a crew cut by cutting his coat about 1 inch long to help him keep cool in the hot months. Do not give a buzz cut because the hair acts as a natural sunscreen. And, brush your pet a few times per week because a well-groomed coat with no mats enables air to circulate between the hair and the skin.

Have a place to chill. Pets who seek out tile floors to sleep and stay cool are at risk for joint stiffness and muscle stress. Make their pet beds more appealing by filling gallon jugs with water, freezing them and placing them in your pet's bed draped by a towel. This homemade ‘refrigerator' will keep snoozing pets cool.

Dr. Marty Becker, "America's Veterinarian," is the resident veterinarian for Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. His latest book, Your Dog: The Owner's Manual, became available this spring. Find him in the AARP PetPals forum of AARP.org.

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