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Dog in sun

Dogs with white fur are more prone to sunburn. Limit their time spent in the sun.

SIOUX CITY | It’s summer and the harmful rays of the sun are in full effect. Warnings about the dangers of sunburn for humans are everywhere, but what about the harm done to pets?

“The sun can have an effect, especially on the pink-skinned, white-haired pets,” said Dr. Abigail Krause, of Family Pet Hospital. “We often see sunburn on the tops of their noses. It can definitely be painful for them.”

Even though pets can get sunburn, chances are they won’t get skin cancer from the sun. That doesn’t mean they can’t get skin cancer at all, however. Just like with humans, make sure to have any odd bumps or colored spots checked out as soon as possible, said Krause.

A more pressing concern with the hot temperatures of summer is the increased risk of overheating.

Brachycephalic breeds -- or dogs with pushed-in faces like pugs and bulldogs -- are most prone to overheating. This is due to upper respiratory obstructions that make panting inefficient.

Signs of overheating in dogs and cats include excessive panting, collapsing, vomiting, and dry gums and tongue. Krause noted that it’s never normal for cats to pant.

If any of these signs are present, immediate action must be taken.

“Take them away from whatever activity they’re doing and get them in the shade,” Krause said. “Give them cool water, but not cold water which can shock their system.”

That’s because a drastic shift in body temperature is dangerous.

“If you take their body temperature down too quickly, it can be bad,” Krause said.

Instead, if the pet seems to be in poor condition, take it to the veterinarian for professional help.

“Bring them in to the vet if it seems bad and we can give them IVs and things to cool them down,” she said.

Ever walked barefoot on pavement on a hot day? Turns out dogs feel the burn on their paws as well when going for walks in the hot sun.

“Try to walk in the shade if you can,” Krause said. “Walk in the morning and evening when the light isn’t so intense.”

Even with proper shade and a fresh supply of water, which should always be available, some temperatures are just too hot for dogs to be outside for prolonged periods, Krause said.

“It kind of depends on the humidity and time of day,” Krause said. “When it gets into the 90s, start thinking about senior dogs, puppies and brachycephalic breeds.”

She also noted that it’s never safe to leave pets unattended in a car, even when temperatures are mild outside. A dog's internal body temperature can rise to dangerous levels rapidly, often within a few minutes, when left in a hot vehicle.

“Even in the 70s, it can heat up very quickly in a car,” said Krause. “Just leave them at home or drop them off somewhere.”

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