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We’ve all seen it. A parked car sitting somewhere with no people around and inside, a dog locked up. Sure, the pet’s owner has left the window rolled down a few inches, but that’s just not sufficient.

It can be miserable for a person to be in a car when the sun is beating down, even when the car is moving and a breeze is blowing. So imagine just having to sit there and wait for someone to return and let you out.

Some people seem to have a notion that dogs are tough and hardy, and being shut in a car is no big deal for them as long as the window is cracked open. Wrong.

According to representatives of the Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter, which helps care for animals in Washington County, dogs have it even tougher than humans when it comes to exceedingly hot temperatures. And it’s not just because of their fur coats.

According to Deborah Wood, who is the manager of Washington County Animal Services as well as the Bonnie L. Hays Shelter, dogs in particular are in much more danger in the heat than people.

That’s because what is merely uncomfortable for a human can be deadly for a dog. Wood pointed out that dogs don’t sweat and in general are less efficient in expelling heat from their bodies than people are. That’s critical to remember.

Wood said her agency receives calls to help pets left in hot cars every day. She warned that with the temperatures in the 80s and 90s, cars can quickly turn into “death chambers.” Washington County Animal Services officers and local police will respond to calls about dogs left in cars, and owners who leave their pets in hot cars could face criminal charges.

Here’s another issue to consider regarding your pets in the heat: Remember how hot the sand on a beach can get on a warm, sunny day? It gets so bad at times that people have to wear shoes to keep their feet from being burned.

Yet many people might not think about this aspect of temperature when it comes to their pets. Wood advises people not to walk pets when it gets especially hot. In addition to the danger of heat stroke, hot sidewalks and asphalt can burn a dog’s paws.

And sometimes, people can make the situation tougher for their pet dogs or cats even while trying to help. Dr. Allison Lamb, staff veterinarian for Washington County Animal Services, cautioned that some hot weather “remedies” are a bad idea. “Don’t soak your dog to cool him or her down,” warned Lamb. “With the pet’s body heat, the wet fur can actually end up heating up the pet instead of cooling him off.”

The best way to deal with your pets when the temperatures start climbing high is to treat them as you would treat your children.

Keep them indoors and out of the hot sun. Make sure they have plenty of water to drink. Don’t expect them to walk on hot surfaces with bare paws.

And perhaps most important of all, never leave them locked in cars.

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