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Do you know how to keep your canine cool?

Friday - 6/29/2012, 9:54pm  ET

buster (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Panting and sweating a bit through their pads are the only ways dogs can cool down. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON - Dogs are great at a lot of things like retrieving and sniffing out danger. But there's one thing they just don't do very well: cool themselves off.

Panting and sweating a bit through their pads are the only ways dogs can cool down. But in this heat, veterinarian and animal welfare workers say that dogs need the help of their owners.

Here's how local dogs keep it cool:

  • Seamus - This Soft Coated Wheaton terrier's owner plays with him during the cooler hours of the day.

    "I just make sure he's well hydrated and he has plenty of chances to get more water," says the owner.

  • Puna - A Rhodesian Ridgeback, Puna lets her owners know when she needs a break.

    "We sort of know what her threshold is," say her owners. "At the dog park she'll slow down. She'll go under one of the benches, and just hang out."

    Puna's parents aren't sure if it's her heritage, the Rhodesian's an African dog, or the fact that she's from Hawaii-that makes her so summer-savvy.

  • Lola - This Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's owner makes sure she's spending most of her time in air conditioned comfort, and that when they go out, they keep the play session short before Lola has to get down to business.

    "I just make sure she's not panting too long, and she doesn't look tired".

  • Rocky - This Boston Terrier doesn't know his own limits. His pet-sitter explains: "He likes to pull. He's like a little locomotive."

    But the sitter knows since Rocky's a brachycephalic dog (a short-nosed breed, like Pugs and Bulldogs) he's got to take extra care.

    "I just take him around a couple of times then bring him home."

What are the trouble signs?

That's tricky, says veterinarian Dr. Ashley Hughes. During the last heat wave, Hughes, who works at the Friendship Hospital for Animals, tended to a number of dogs brought in for heat stroke. One didn't make it.

"The problem is, by the time you can spot their distress, it could be too late," says Hughes.

But often, she says a dog will pant excessively, or simply quit the walk by sitting down suddenly. That could be a sign of real trouble. If a dog collapses, owners should seek immediate medical attention.

The Humane Society has more information on keeping pets cool

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow Kate and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)