Most pet owners see their pets as fur babies, and they’re right — we are pet parents. I am a proud mama to a 5-year-old mini Doberman and Chihuahua mix. I recall the day we brought her home: As much as I wanted to take care of a dog, I wasn’t prepared to become a mama all over again, especially to a dog. My family took ownership of Coco a few weeks before we should have taken her — in other words, she should’ve stayed with her mother a few weeks longer. We had to give our new addition puppy milk from a bottle to ensure she was getting the nutrients she needed, and my husband and I had her on a schedule, which meant house training. This reminded me of my own kids when they were newborns.

I was a mama all over again.

So, my fellow pet parents, especially new pet parents, acknowledge the responsibility you have bestowed upon yourself in becoming a pet owner. You are now the proud guardian of a living thing that cannot talk to you (in your language, anyway), but once you become best pals, you’ll understand each other perfectly.

With that said, we’re in dangerous territory with all this Southern, summer heat, so please remember: Your pup depends on you to notice when they’re suffering in the swelter, whether it’s in your home, in your car, or on your daily run.

The top seven dogs that suffer from heat-related illnesses the fastest?

• Pugs
• English Bulldogs
• Chow Chows
• Pomeranians 
• Cavalier King Charles Spaniels 
• Boxers
• Alaskan Malamutes

Naturally, we sweat to cool ourselves off, but dogs and cats don’t. Panting is our little friends’ way of cooling off. Another way they regulate their body temperature is through their fur. Your dog’s fur slows down the process of heat absorption and helps keep him cool. 

Surprisingly enough, people still leave their dogs in hot cars while running errands! A hot car is a death trap for a dog, as it is for a human. Although many believe the one-minute errand couldn’t cause any harm, a parked car’s temperature can soar to 100 degrees in minutes on a 78-degree day, and to 109 degrees on a 90-degree day in less than 10 minutes. Your pup can endure brain damage and suffer from a heat stroke in less than 15 minutes.

One last thing to think about is not to have your pooch walk on hot asphalt. Test the pavement and if possible, wait for a cooler time. 

Some other easy ways to keep your pooch cool?

• Keep a filled water bowl close by for your baby (okay — fur baby).
• If you can’t have them inside, at least place your dog’s shelter in a shady area.
• Have a fan for Coco (I had to plug my baby’s name again).
• Create cool treats — freeze their chew toys, or make ice with dog treats inside.
• Rub your dog down with a cool towel.

Just beware of your pet’s needs in this heat. We made a pact to love them and keep them safe once we took them in. Y’all stay cool out there.

Dawn Felton is a wife, mother of two adorable kids, and Coco.

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