Special to The Dallas Examiner

Ready or not, the hot weather is here, complete with 90-plus degree temperatures that not only affect people, but also our animal companions. Of course, keeping your pets happy and healthy year-round is of the utmost importance, but be extra mindful of your pets’ changing needs during those hot summer months in Texas.

The SPCA of Texas receives an average of eight calls a day reporting suspected animal cruelty. Almost half of those reports involve animals being denied food, water and/or shelter. In extreme cases, our humane services officers file criminal charges; most of the time, a dose of education is what’s needed. To report animal cruelty, please visit spca.org/abuse, or call 214-461-1850.

The SPCA of Texas urges pet owners to keep the following in mind during the hot summer months to protect their animal friends:

• Walk dogs early in the morning or in the evening hours instead of in the middle of the day when it’s hottest. Overweight and older pets are more likely to overheat during hot weather, so it is important to keep them fit and trim.

• Check the temperature of the pavement before taking your dog for a walk by pressing the back of your hand on the concrete for 5 seconds. If it burns your hand, it will burn the pads on your dogs paws.

• Some pet owners prefer to leave their animal friends outside. If that is the case, your pet must always have shelter available to protect him from extreme temperatures and inclement weather. Also, consider providing a wading pool filled with water for your companion to cool off in during the hot days of summer.

• Provide your pet with fresh, cool water every day in a tip-proof bowl. Remember that metal bowls left in the sun can get hot, so always put water bowls in the shade. Don’t forget the ice.

• Allow water hoses to run for several seconds or minutes – until water cools – before spraying your dog or filling his water bowl.

• Keep your pet well groomed, but resist the temptation to shave off all of his hair in an effort to keep him cool. A pet’s coat can protect him from sunburn and acts as cooling insulation.

• If your dog has fair or pink skin, limit her time in direct sunlight to prevent sunburns. Consider putting pet-safe sunscreen on their nose, ears and muzzle where they are most likely to get burned.

• Don’t let your dog ride in the back of an open vehicle unless he can be safely tethered to the center where he is unable to reach the sides and can stand or sit on a slip proof, cool surface. Truck beds and metal surfaces get extremely hot in the summer and can burn paw pads.

• Never leave your pet in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. It takes only minutes for a dog or cat to suffer a heat stroke. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a locked car can reach 120 degrees in under ten minutes. Should you see a pet left alone in a parked car, please call 911.

• Don’t forget to give your livestock companions plenty of water daily. Often times, livestock owners forget that each livestock animal, including horses and donkeys, can consume 10 to 20 gallons of water per day.

• Be sure that your pet lives a happy and healthy life by making sure to have them spayed or neutered, keep them current on vaccinations, have them microchipped to ensure that they can come home if they get lost, have current tags on an appropriate collar and of course visit the veterinarian annually or on the schedule your veterinarian recommends.

As always, check with your veterinarian for all your pets’ healthcare needs and visit www.spca.org for more happy, healthy pet tips.

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