How to keep your pet safe while hiking in extreme heat

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Your dog does not have to be inside a car to be in danger in this kind of heat. It could be in real trouble just on a walk or a hike.

Mike Mondaruli and his dog Nala are new to Colorado. They moved here from upstate New York.

“I love it. The weather is nice, the people are even nicer,” said Mondaruli.

They are enjoying Colorado, especially the famous sunshine. But with sunshine comes heat.

“It’s no joke, and it can happen so quickly,” said local veterinarian Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald from Alameda East Animal Hospital.

The “it” he refers to is heat exhaustion, and for dogs that could turn deadly on a dime.

“Now remember, they cannot sweat. The only way they can get rid of excessive heat is to pant. They can’t keep up,” said Fitzgerald.

So just how hot is too hot for dogs?

“It can get well over 114 degrees here in Colorado, so, imagine running on 114 degrees on bare feet. So, come on, have a little bit of common sense,” said Fitzgerald.

You don’t have to buy a heat gun to tell if the ground is too hot for your dog.  Just put your hand right on the pavement and see for yourself.

But how about your favorite hiking trail? Still warm to the touch but not near as hot as the pavement.

“Rock or shell, what they call scrapple, those types of things can superheat, too, and also cut the feet. So, I think what we have to do is be realistic,” Dr. Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald recommended exercising with your dog early in the morning when the ground and air temperatures are cool. Keep your walks or hikes short and be close to shade and plenty of water.

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