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Staying cool in the heat

Published On: Jun 10 2013 06:29:03 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 10 2013 06:37:55 PM CDT

The mercury is rising, and it could be dangerous unless you know how to stay safe. From kids to pets, experts are weighing in on how to stay healthy this summer.

Temperatures are forecast to be in the 90s and 100s this week, and this type of heat can be dangerous to people and pets.

Dr. John Torres, medical director of Premier Urgent Care, said people need to stay hydrated.  He warned that waiting until one is thirsty can be a big mistake, as thirst is an early sign of dehydration.  Torres said water and sports drinks are best, and said alcohol should be avoided.

He said dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Symptoms for these disorders can include nausea, fatigue, headache and aches.  If suffering from these symptoms, the person should seek a cooler location and should begin drinking fluids.

Sunscreen should also be applied every two hours to anyone spending time outside.  Torres recommends a sunscreen between SPF30 and SPF50.

"If the sunscreen is more than two years old, get rid of it and get some new ones because it has lost its potency," said Torres.

Pets should also be protected from the heat.  Dr. Laura Birkholz, veterinarian with North Academy Veterinary Hospital, said sunscreen can be applied to dogs.  She said those at particular risk of sunburn are white, short-haired dogs.  She advised applying sunscreen to the tips of the dog’s ears, the area where their nose meets their hairline and the skin on the stomach.

Birkholz said one of the biggest mistakes pet owners make is putting ice in the dogs' water dishes to help cool them down.  She explained that when dogs pant, water is evaporating from the dog's tongue and this is how they are able to stay cool.

“If you cool down their water source, that cools down their tongue and it doesn’t evaporate the water from their tongue.  It makes them hotter,” she said.

Birkholz also warns owners to never leave their dogs in the car, even if just for a short time.

She said if a dog begins to act depressed, does not care to engage with its owner, pants excessively and rejects water, these could be indicators that the dog is suffering from heat exhaustion.  The dog’s veterinarian should be called with any questions of concerns.


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