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Abilene veterinarian provides tips to keep pets safe from heat

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ABILENE, Texas - Summer temperatures have arrived in the Big Country, bringing extra danger for your household pets.

"Keep them inside if you can," said Dr. Allen Bolt, a veterinarian in Abilene. "Provide plenty of water, shade – they need a breeze. Try to go out there and stay where you want to put the dog – if you put them outside and you get hot, the dog will get hot."

Heat-related issues in particular are what pet owners should be looking for. If your pet is panting more than usual, their tongue has widened or turned a blue to purple color, their eyes start to turn red, or they go unconscious, they need to be cooled off as soon as possible and possible taken to the vet.

Despite widespread awareness of deaths in hot cars, new cases of pets dying while locked in cars are reported every year. Bolt said to never leave a pet in a vehicle, even if the window is rolled down or you only expect to be gone for a few minutes. The interior temperature of a car will rise above the outside temperature, creating an environment that is usually in the triple digits.

"They pant hard, can't breathe, [and] core body temperature goes up," Bolt said.

Pet owners often forget that the pavement can be too hot for some pets to walk on, especially dark asphalt. Bolt said a good rule of thumb is to put the back of your hand to the ground, and if it's too hot for you, then it's too hot for your pet's paws.

Bolt said pet owners should try to walk either early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperatures are cooler.

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