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Detroit veterinarian offers advice on keeping dogs cool during heat wave

Veterinarian offers advice on keeping dogs cool during heat wave
Veterinarian offers advice on keeping dogs cool during heat wave 02:56

WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. (CBS Detroit) - We're expecting a massive heat wave starting next week in Southeast Michigan.

Temperatures nearing triple digits present numerous potential health risks for all dog breeds. Even if they're panting at the door to get some outside time, it's important to know how to help them handle the heat and what to look for if it becomes too much. 

From the pavement on their paws to proper hydration, dogs need special care when the temperature reaches the upper 90s.

"Always have water available and certainly consider their individual needs," said Arbor Hills Animal Clinic veterinarian Dr. Michael Nowicki.

For instance, Dr. Nowicki says smaller dogs can cool themselves down a little bit faster, while dogs with darker-colored coats tend to heat up more quickly. All dogs will still be at risk of heat exhaustion during a nearly triple-digit heat wave, no matter the breed or size.

"It's almost impossible for any dog to in those types of temperatures to actually shed enough heat to stay safe for the long term outside," Dr. Nowicki said.

Advice as simple as avoiding dark, hard surfaces for your dog walk can make the difference between a happy pup and a serious vet visit.

"The pads themselves can get second-degree, heaven forbid, third-degree burns, and if you can't touch that surface with the back of your hand and hold it in contact with that surface for ten seconds and still be comfortable, it's too hot for your dog's feet," he said.

Dr. Nowicki says dogs shouldn't be outside for more than 15 minutes without a shade or indoor break once the temperature spikes. In addition to giving them free access to water, he says to make sure your dog has a shady escape from the sun available too. Pack a bag with extra water, collapsible bowls, extra food and treats, and an extra leash if going on a hike. Avoid leaving your dog in the car without you, even if the car is on with the air conditioning running.

"Those things do time out, and if that shuts off, you're not going to be aware of that, and it only takes minutes for your car or truck to get basically into a convection oven situation," he said.

Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion in dogs could save the life of yours.

Dr. Nowicki says to look out for rapid, shallow breaths, sluggishness, and attempts from your dog to communicate its discomfort by taking frequent breaks to lie down.

"The first thing you want to do is not delay, and get back to your vehicle and start cooling down your vehicle. In addition, start heading to your vet," Dr. Nowicki said.

There might be several times next week when you want a companion while you run errands around town, but it might be a better idea to simply leave your dog at home until we get a cooler forecast. Dr. Nowicki says your dog will thank you. 

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