People that have lived in the south for an extended amount of time know how to handle the heat, but pets may need some help.

Dr. Jesse Brandon from Brandon Veterinary Clinic in Leesville provided some tips to keep your pet safe and cool as temperatures rise.

"Here in Louisiana, we see our fair share of pets suffering from heat stress or heat stroke," he said. "The one thing we see all-year round, and it doesn't have anything to do with just elevated temperatures, is symptoms caused by humidity. People have gotten a lot better at it and have shown more attention to leaving their pets in parked vehicles."

There are simple reminders such as having water on hand at all time when they are outside and to have shade available. 

Dr. Brandon says that waiting and being smart about taking your pet on a walk makes a big difference.

"It is extremely important in the summertime to plan your walk for the early morning or late evening," he said. "I've had clients that choose to do it in the early evening, and it's too much. You've really got to time your walks and runs. We're wearing shoes when we're doing all of that, and people forget about the sidewalk. You want to touch the asphalt or whatever surface you're walking on with your hand to check the temperature. If it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your dog to be walking on. I've seen them come in, and not only are they heat stressed but they burnt the bottom of their pads from running on a hot surface."
If an accident happens, knowing the symptoms of overheating can help save your pet.

"You may see obvious symptoms like excessive panting, drooling and difficulties breathing, but they can progress to weakness or collapsing," Brandon said. "Symptoms can even progress to having seizures, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Those are the patients that I'll end up seeing. The reason they have GI symptoms is because the GI tract is the shock organ in dogs."

Brandon also says that certain breeds, such as English Bulldogs and other short-nosed breeds, struggle to breathe normally due to their current anatomy. Being outside for an extended amount of time will not allow the dog to pant off that heat and breath normally.

A dog's normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5 Fahrenheit, and if your dog showing signs of heat exhaustion, sacrificing a thermometer can save it.

"That's your most accurate way to see if they are overheated," Brandon said. "You don't want to cool them off too fast. If a dog comes in with a temperature, we will actively start to cool it down. You soak towels in lukewarm water and wrap up your pet. We will sometimes get ice packs wrapped in towels and put them in their armpit areas. You can wipe their pads with water or Isopropyl Alcohol wipes. Sometimes, that helps them lose heat, as well. 

"You have to be careful because I've seen people just dump them ice baths right away. You don't want to do that because you can overcorrect them. It will go from super high to super low."