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Lifestyle Pets Unleashed

Hot weather pet emergencies -- and how to treat them

Summer sickness isn't limited to humans -- watch for these common hot weather pet problems.

Paw burns or cuts

What it looks like: Your pet will likely be limping or avoiding walking on the affected paw, says Kim Hammond, owner and director of Falls Road Animal Hospital. The paw might be red, and the pad might be cracked, he said.

What to do: If the pad is torn, raw or bleeding, Hammond recommends you take your pet to its vet for a checkup, as this can lead to infection. Pad burns aren't always serious, but they're difficult to treat, as bandages typically need to be applied, and animals can't easily be told not to lick or mess with the affected area.

What not to do: Don't ignore limping or tenderness to your pet's limbs. The symptoms are general and could point to a more serious condition, like a torn ligament.

Heat exhaustion or dehydration

What it looks like: Your pet will look lethargic, Hammond says. A dog will likely be sitting down with its tongue hanging out, and the end of the tongue might be starting to swell, he says. Severe symptoms include collapsing or the mucus membranes turning bright red.

What to do: Get your pet into a cool space with wind blowing on it. Hammond recommends getting a dog inside in the air conditioning, providing it with water and having a fan blow air on it. If the dog collapses or appears to be having trouble breathing, take it to a vet immediately.

What not to do: Avoid taking short-snouted dogs on walks when it's too hot or humid outside.

Giardia or Parasite

What it looks like: Your pet will be vomiting or will have diarrhea, Hammond says.

What to do: Hammond suggests taking your pet to see a vet or dropping off a stool sample with the vet. Animals can get parasites from drinking creek water, a common activity in the summer.

What not to do: Don't write it off as a common sickness -- some parasites can be passed from dogs to humans, so you might be putting the people in your home at risk.

Has your pet ever experienced any of these health issues during the hot summer months? Do you have any hot weather tips for pet owners?

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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