Pet heat safety
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- People aren't the only ones who feel the heat in the summer months and it's important to remember that the warmer temperatures can affect people's four-legged friends, as well.

The Fort Rucker Public Safety Office offers several tips on how people can keep their pets safe and healthy during the summer months.

Never leave a dog alone in a car. Parking in the shade or a cloudy day will not eliminate all the potential heat risks.

Pets can get dehydrated quickly. It's important to give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot or humid outdoors.

Make sure pets have access to a shady place to get out of the sun.

Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept out of the heat as much as possible.

Don't let pets linger on hot asphalt -- their paw pads are sensitive and may burn. Keep daily walks during high temperatures to a minimum.

Know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, and/or stupor. Symptoms can also include seizures, vomiting, and/or elevated body temperature.

According to the American Red Cross website, if you suspect your pet is suffering from a heat stroke or illness, you should first remove the animal from direct heat and check the animal's body temperature.

If the animal's body temperature is 104 degrees or higher, start the cooling process by placing water-soaked towels on the animal's head, neck and chest. The initial cooling process must stop after the first 10-15 minutes, if not, the animal's body temperature could drop dangerously low. Owners should take pets to the nearest veterinary hospital immediately, even if they are able to decrease the animal's body temperature. The potential consequences of heat stroke may not become apparent in your pet until hours or days later.

Peggy Contreras, DPS Community Police supervisor, reminds people that neglecting a pet by leaving it chained up or confined in the heat without proper water is a violation of Fort Rucker Regulation 40-16. She encourages anyone with pets to consider the heat and follow appropriate guidelines.

For more information or to report suspected animal neglect, contact Fort Rucker Community Police at 255-2222.