When should you take your dog for longer walks when it’s hot outside?

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A Maryland veterinarian has a word of advice for owners who take their dogs for longer walks during these times with temperatures rising: “If it’s hot for you, it is hot for them.”

Among the concerns for dogs during heat waves, “the most serious is heatstroke,” said Dr. Cinthia Fabretti with Montgomery Animal Hospital in Rockville.

Because dogs do not sweat, they use their breathing to balance their body temperature.

“If the air outside is hotter than the temperature inside, they will be in trouble,” Fabretti said.

Fabretti said the first advice she gives pet owners is to only go on longer walks early in the morning and late in the evening when it is the coolest outside.

“I’m not talking about going outside very quickly to do No. 1 and 2, but longer walks,” she said.

She said a dog’s breed can make matters worse since dogs, such as Boxers and French bulldogs that have “squished noses,” have more of a difficult time in the heat. Dogs with thicker coats, like German shepherds and Huskies, also struggle during heat spells, Fabretti said.

She urges pet owners to also know the signs of heat stroke, which includes heavy panting, labored breathing and visible weakness. And if you think your dog needs water during a heat-related illness, they may need something else to help them.

“They are not thirsty; they are trying to exhale that hot air and trying to inhale a cooler air that doesn’t exist. It’s not there,” Fabretti said.

If that’s the case, the dog needs to get back indoors or somewhere with a fan or air-conditioning. And if you suspect heat stroke, you should contact your local veterinarian immediately.

“Heat stroke kills,” Fabretti said.

The other thing Fabretti said she sees during extreme heat is dogs with burned paws. So when heading outside with your pet, owners should always touch the pavement or sidewalk with the back of their hands to tell how hot it is. Again, if it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely too hot for them.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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