Dog days of summer: How to protect your pets from the heat

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's the dog days of summer, but with temperatures about to hit the mid-90s as we head into the weekend there are some risks for your furry friends.

With the temperatures set to hit the mid-90s this weekend, pets are at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Emily Sowards, medical director of the Huntington Cabell-Wayne animal shelter, says that heat exhaustion and stroke in dogs can happen quickly.

"They can get heat exhaustion and even heat stroke which can cause lasting serious damage, and it can even lead to death,” she said.

If your pet becomes lethargic, starts panting heavily, has bright red gums, vomits or has diarrhea you should take them to the vet right away.

Just a few weeks ago, a humane officer responded to a call about a beagle in that situation, tied up to a fence with no shade or water.

"They went and got the dogs immediately and we rushed one of them to the vet. He did experience some neurological symptoms and was kind of touch and go for a few days. He went back and forth from the vet to the emergency room. He did recover and he's doing well now, but it was pretty scary,” she said.

Kirk Sowards rescued his beagle, Thelma Lou, about five years ago and can’t believe someone would leave their pets in the heat.

"They have to have food, water, shelter and some people, for whatever reason, don’t provide it. It's terrible. I mean, it's really inhumane and they can’t make it out in it,” he said.

To avoid heat stroke, keep your pet inside. If they have to be outside, make sure they have plenty of cold water and access to a shaded area.

Emily also recommends you try to take your dogs on walks in the morning or at night. This way they won't be at risk for burning their paws. The sidewalk can heat up in minutes and even cause third-degree burns to your pet just from walking over it.

Dogs with a short nose, long hair or younger or old dogs are at higher risk for heat stroke.