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Keep your canine cool

Create a chill zone for your dog this summer to keep it cool. thinkstock.com

Heatstroke is a common issue for dogs in the warmer months. With summer in full swing, it is important to keep your dog in mind when it comes to keeping cool.

The American Kennel Club offers the following tips for dog owners to help their canine companions stay cool in the summer heat:

— Leave your dog home. Never leave your dog in a vehicle. On a hot day, your car can quickly become a furnace. Even when it feels relatively cool out and the windows are left open, your car can heat up to well above the outside temperature very rapidly. You should also never tie a dog outside a store while you run errands; it can create stress and may cause your dog to overheat. If you can't bring your dog inside your destination, it's best to leave them home where they are cool and safe.

— Hydration is key. Make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water at all times in the hot weather. Bring a collapsible bowl that you can refill at water fountains, and freeze a bottle of water or bring ice cubes in a cooler or container on long outings. Also, be sure to bring water with you in case there is not an available water source around.

— Beat the sun. Early in the morning and late at night are the cooler parts of the day. You may want to switch your schedule to exercise your dog during these cooler hours to avoid heat exhaustion. Walk your dog on the grass or dirt where it is cooler. Asphalt can quickly get hot enough to burn the pads of your dog's paws.

— Create your own chill zone. Air conditioning is not the only way to help your dog beat the heat. You can find a spot in the shade and set up a kiddie pool for them to cool off in. You can also keep your dog cool by placing a wet towel on a concrete or tile floor in front of a fan or air conditioner.

— Don't trim or shave your dog. Many pet owners assume that shaving their dog in the heat will help cool her down. However, a dog's coat helps regulate body temperature and protects from sunburn. Brushing your dog more often to help remove loose fur can prevent overheating, but shaving them down is not necessary. Also, if you have a hairless breed, you should always use a pet-friendly sunscreen on your dog.

— Watch for signs of heat exhaustion. Excessive panting, disorientation and obvious paleness or graying to the gums are all signs of heatstroke in dogs. If you feel your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion or heatstroke, act immediately by submerging them in cool water (not ice-cold) or by placing ice packs on their neck. Once the dog has been stabilized, get him to a veterinarian right away.

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