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Protecting your pets during Utah's heat wave

Animal-lovers take full advantage of the sun and walk their dogs at Tanner Park in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 15, 2021. Some experts remind Utahns to keep an eye on their pets during the record-setting heat wave. (Derek Petersen, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — Experts reminded Utahns to keep an eye on their pets during the record-setting heat wave.

Just like humans, pets can overheat and get really sick during extreme heat.

The Best Friends Animal Society puts out these warnings every year — so it could be a refresher for many pet owners. But for those who got a new puppy when the pandemic started, this is the first time you've had to take care of your pet during extreme heat.

"These are my dogs," said Sadie Weeks, a dog walker with Jupiter Dog Sitting. "We are going for a walk in Tanner Park, hopefully going to go swimming in the swimming hole to cool off. It's been so hot."

Several people were also out walking their dogs before the temperature really started to heat up.

Temma Martin with Best Friends Animal Society said if your dogs spend any time outdoors, exercise them in the morning or evening.

"It is literally minutes before your pet could end up in a situation where they could have heatstroke or even die," she said.

Martin also said to make sure they have plenty of water and shade.

"When I go out with them, I usually think about water," said Weeks. "I want to take them to a place that has running water. She'll usually find a nice spot in the shade and just plop down if she's tired."

If your dog is overly panting, in distress or their tongue gets darker, they could be having heatstroke. In that case, Martin said gently put cold water onto their bellies, paws and ears to reduce their temperature.

When temperatures rise, Salt Lake City police said there's an uptick in calls reporting pets left in hot cars.

Martin said if the temperature is warmer than 70 degrees outside, don't take your pet with you in the car, unless they're getting out with you at your destination.

"We did an experiment a few years ago with a car that had been driving with air conditioning on. It was 69 degrees when the car stopped, and the temperature shot up to 140 degrees in 10 minutes, with windows partway down," she said.

If you place the back of your hand on the surface and you can't hold it comfortably for five seconds, Martin said it's too hot for your dog's paws.

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