Protect your dogs (and cats) during dog days

Published 4:16 pm Friday, July 24, 2009

With dog days and their accompanying high temperatures upon us, Georgians are doing their best to keep cool.

Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin is reminding pet owners that their cats and dogs need assistance in order to stay safe and healthy on sweltering days.

Here are a few tips to help your pet beat the summer heat:

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 Keep a fresh water supply available. Change the water daily. This helps ensure that it remains clean and prevents mosquitoes from breeding in it.

 Keep it in the shade so it doesn’t get hot.

 Do not leave your pet in a parked car—even with the windows cracked. The temperature can become dangerously high within minutes.

 If your dogs are outdoors, make sure that they have a shaded, well-ventilated place to get out of the sun’s harmful rays. Place doghouses in the shade. (Cats are better kept indoors year-round for their health and safety as well as to protect songbirds and wildlife.)

 Limit strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. Take walks in the morning or evening. Bring your dog inside to the air-conditioning if it seems too hot. Dogs with short snouts such as Pugs, English bulldogs and Pekineses are especially vulnerable to the heat.

 Avoid prolonged contact with asphalt or concrete. These surfaces may burn paw pads.

 Fleas and ticks are more active during the summer months and can cause serious health problems. Talk to your veterinarian about how to keep these from infesting your pet.

 Keep your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date. This is especially important during summer to protect against mosquitoes and disease-carrying insects.

 Spay or neuter your pet. This keeps animals closer to home and helps them avoid potential life-threatening situations, decreases their disease susceptibility and improves their overall health.

For information on how to receive a discount on your pet’s spay or neuter procedure through the dog and cat sterilization program, visit the Georgia Department of Agriculture at or call (404) 656-3667.