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Animal advocates: Walking your dog in the heat can have serious consequences

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OKLAHOMA CITY - While paramedics are warning parents to never leave children in hot cars, animal advocates are also warning pet owners about the same dangers.

PETA reports that when temperatures reach the 80s, inside a parked car can soar to well over 100 degrees in just minutes, which can be deadly for pets.

Also, asphalt temperatures can climb to 140 degrees, which can cause pain, burns and permanent damage on a dog's paws after just a few minutes.

The organization offered a series of health tips to keep your pets safe during the summer heat:

  • Keep dogs indoors: Unlike humans, dogs can only sweat through their footpads and cool themselves by panting. Soaring temperatures can cause heat stress, injury, or death.
  • Provide water and shade: When outside, animals must have access to fresh water and ample shade, and the shifting sun needs to be taken into account. Even brief periods of direct exposure to the sun can have life-threatening consequences.
  • Walk—don't run: In very hot, humid weather, never exercise dogs by biking and making them run alongside you or by running them while you jog. Dogs will collapse before giving up, at which point, it may be too late to save them.
  • Avoid hot cars: Never leave an animal in a parked car in warm weather, even for short periods with the windows partially rolled down. Dogs trapped inside hot cars can succumb to heatstroke within minutes—even if a car isn't parked in direct sunlight.
  • Never transport animals in the bed of a pickup truck: This practice is dangerous—and illegal in many cities and states—because animals can be catapulted out of a truck bed on a sudden stop or strangled if they jump out while they're tethered.
  • Stay alert and save a life: Keep an eye on all outdoor animals. Make sure they have adequate water and shelter. If you see an animal in distress, provide him or her with water for immediate relief and contact humane authorities right away.
  • Avoid hot pavement: When outdoor temperatures reach the 80s, asphalt temperatures can reach 140 degrees, causing pain, burns, permanent damage, and scarring on dogs' paws after just a few minutes of contact. Walk on grass when possible, and avoid walking in the middle of the day.
  • Use a cooling vest or mat: Dog cooling equipment, such as wearable vests or bed mats, come in a range of materials and prices and help prevent overheating. Simply freeze or soak the items in cold water to keep dogs comfortable while on a walk or lounging. Placing cold water bottles in a dog's bed also works.
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