GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With the heat and humidity, it feels like it's well over 100 degrees in South Mississippi these days. And the extreme heat poses a risk to people and pets.
"You definitely have to be very careful with pets this time of year," said Kim Staton with the Humane Society of South Mississippi. "Because they don't have that mechanism to perspire and expend the heat the way we do, they're likely to get overheated a lot more quickly like us."
Staton is an animal welfare administrator at the Humane Society. She says there are a few simple guidelines you can follow to keep your pets safe from the sweltering heat this summer.
"A lot of times people think it's okay to make a quick stop on the way home if they have a pet with them. The problem with that is it gets very hot in a car, very quickly. Even with the windows down and parked in the shade, it can get 105, 110 degrees in that car, and that's way too hot for a pet," Staton said.
Staton also advises taking pets only for short walks, and doing so during the cooler times of the day, if possible. Pets kept outdoors during the day are also at higher risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
"The other thing is pets that are outdoors, even if they have shade, can get overheated, just because of the heat index is so high right now. So just be sure that the animals have clean fresh water. Sometimes people put out little swimming pools so that their pet can get into some water," Staton said.
Signs your pet may be overheated included panting, a reddened tongue and wide eyes. But using a little caution and common sense will keep your pet out of harm's way.
If your pet does get overheated, Staton suggests giving them cold water and putting ice packs on their abdomens. She also says you should get your pet to the vet as soon as you can if heat exhaustion symptoms occur.
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