With summer temperatures already breaking well-over 80 degrees, the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development’s (MDARD) Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Frank offers a few tips to keep your furry, four-legged family members healthy and happy this summer. “Our cats, dogs and other companion animals can be just as uncomfortable in the heat and humidity as we are and can quickly become dangerously overheated,” said Frank. “Pets can suffer from heat stroke, dehydration, and even sunburn. So it’s critical you use sound, common sense practices like not leaving your pet in a car. Even if you park it in the shade and have the windows partially open, it only takes a few minutes for temperatures inside the car to reach deadly levels.” While all dogs and cats are at risk, older or very young pets, overweight pets, those with heavy coats, and short-nosed dogs may need extra care. Owners need to limit their exercise to early morning and evening on hot and humid days as asphalt becomes very hot, keep the water bowl refreshed, and be sure a cool environment is always nearby. If your pet is panting excessively or has difficulty breathing, drools excessively or un-characteristically, has difficulty walking, appears weak or in a stupor, immediately place your pet in the shade or air conditioning and apply cool—not cold—water to reduce the animal’s core body temperature. Get help from a licensed veterinarian as soon as possible. The following are some other simple summer pet safety tips: *Beware of toxic agents such as plant food, insecticides, fertilizer, coolants, citronella candles, oil products, and insect coils that may be around the home and yard. *The heat, loud noise, and confusion of crowded summer events can stress pets and isn’t an enjoyable experience for them. Even unlit fireworks can be an issue as many contain toxic compounds like potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, and arsenic. *Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar or identification such as a tag or microchip. *Maintain recommended heartworm medication since the potentially deadly heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.