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Protect your pet this summer with these hot-weather safety tips

In July 2016, he was a neglected 7-week-old puppy clinging to life. He was severely underweight, dehydrated, and had open wounds infected by maggots. 

His rescuer described him as “like a scabby little alien,” too weak even to wag his tail.

By August 2017, however, the Boston terrier was fully recovered. He dipped his paw in ink and ceremoniously stamped it on legislation bearing his name: Libre’s Law. 

What’s officially known as Act 10 of 2017 updated Pennsylvania’s animal protection statutes. Among the improvements is a requirement that tethered pets can spend no more than 30 minutes in temperatures above 90 degrees (or below 30 degrees) and must have water and shade.

While Libre’s situation represents a worst-case scenario of neglect, it’s a good idea for even responsible pet owners to refocus attention on pet safety as hot summer weather approaches. 

These tips are courtesy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Veterinary Medical Association, and Humane Society of the United States.

• Pets dehydrate quickly and should have plenty of fresh, clean water and shade when it’s hot or humid. Don’t over-exercise pets, and keep them indoors when it’s hot.
• Never leave an animal alone in a parked vehicle. This can lead to fatal heat stroke.
• Look for symptoms of overheating, including excessive panting or difficult breathing; increasing heart and respiratory rates; drooling; mild weakness, stupor or collapse. Other symptoms include seizures, bloody diarrhea, vomit along with body temperature above 104 degrees.
• Keep animals with flat faces, such as pugs and Persian cats, in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. They have trouble panting, which animals do to evaporate moisture from their lungs to remove heat from their bodies.
• Don’t leave pets unsupervised around pools as not all of them can swim well. After swimming, rinse them to remove chlorine or salt from their fur. Keep dogs from drinking pool water.
• It’s OK to trim longer hair, but never shave a dog as the layers of a dog coat protect against overheating and sunburn.
• Take pets on walks, hikes or runs during the cooler hours of the day.
• When it comes to sun exposure, be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears as they are more susceptible to skin cancer.
• Avoid hot surfaces such as asphalt that can burn your pet’s paws. Walk on grass if possible.
• Store lawn fertilizers and insecticides out of reach of pets.
• Avoid cocoa bean mulch, which contains the same pet toxin that is found in chocolate.

Adhering to these tips will go a long way toward ensuring that your pet is happy and healthy this summer.

We can just see Libre wagging his tail in approval.