The summer heat in Abilene gets downright scorching, which means not only will we be hot, but so will our pets. I feel like I shouldn't have to state the obvious here, but there are some people who think their pets will be fine and can fend for themselves in the West Texas heat. Not true.

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Like humans, pets can overheat if they are not taken care of properly. This means actually doing stuff to ensure your pet doesn't get sick in the heat, or worse, die. Check out these tips that will go a long way in making sure your pets stay cool.

1. Don't Leave Your Pet in the Car

This is pretty much a no-brainer no matter if it's 100 degrees or even just 80 degrees. Of course, we all know how hot it gets in Abilene during the summer. If you are going to go hit the 'Shops of Abilene' or run some other errands that require you to leave your pet in the car, why even bring them? Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a vehicle can still reach over 100 degrees in just minutes and cause your pet to have heatstroke or brain damage. By the way, if you want to bring your dog with you to eat, there are several places in Abilene that allow you to do so. But, no matter what, don't leave your pet in a hot car.

2. Make Sure There's Plenty of Shade

If you leave your pet outside, make sure your pet has plenty of shade. If you do not have any trees like some of the newer neighborhoods popping up in Abilene, a doghouse, or any other type of place for them to get some shade, you can buy a tarp, or even a tent, and provide them a place to stay cool in this West Texas heat. Some people have even gone as far as making an air-conditioned dog house. So, fellas, if you get in trouble with the wife a lot that might be an idea that will work two-fold.

3. Make Sure They Have Tons of Water

No matter if you have outside or inside pets, they need lots of water. And we all know how dry it gets in Abilene during the summer. If you want, put a few ice cubes in your pet's water bowl to make the water cooler. Check your pet's water bowl several times a day to make sure they have plenty of fresh water. If you take your pet for a walk or just out and about, take a water bottle for yourself and your pet. Whatever you do, just make sure your pet has plenty of water.

4. Exercise Your Pet Early Morning or Late at Night

It's always a good idea to take your pet for a walk, but if you're going to do it during the summertime, you should do it either in the morning or late at night when the temperatures are cooler. Again, you'll want to take a bottle of water with you because even in the morning and night hours, the temperatures are still pretty warm. Heck, most of the time the temps are still close to 90 degrees at 8 pm in Abilene. So probably better to just take your pet for their walks earlier in the morning.

5. Put Sunscreen on Your Pet

Yes, it's true. You can put sunscreen on dogs and cats. Your pet can get sunburned, especially on their ears and nose, plus, they can get skin cancer just like us. You can find sunscreen specifically for your pet, but any PABA sunscreen will work. Put the sunscreen on their nose, ears, and underbelly if they like to lay around on their back a lot. If you have a short-haired pet, you can put the sunscreen on their entire body. I know you can get sunscreen for pets at places like Pet Smart or Pam's Pets.

6. Know the Signs

Again, the temps get downright brutal in Abilene. Because of that, be sure to look for signs that your pet is overheating. This could range from heavy than normal panting and dry or bright red gums to vomiting and diarrhea. Remember, dogs and cats do not sweat as humans do. They drink water and pant to cool their body temperature down. If you see your pet having any signs of overheating, contact a vet immediately.

7. Don't Shave Your Pet

Honestly, I don't know why some folks in Abilene shave their pets. I guess it's some sort of a fashion thing. I do know that some people think if they shave their pets, they'll be cooler in the summer. That is completely wrong. Your pet's coat is designed to naturally keep it cool during the summer, and warm during the winter. Plus your pet will sunburn a lot easier if it is shaved. It's ok to trim them down a bit. Just don't shave them.

8. Keep Your Pet Off Hot Surfaces

Living in one of the subdivisions in Abilene, I see quite a few people walking their dogs in the summer with no regard for how hot the pavement is on their dog's paws. Pets heat and cool from the bottom up. So not only can you burn your dog's paws, but you can cause them to overheat a lot easier.

LOOK: Here Are 30 Foods That Are Poisonous to Dogs

To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

Even with all of these resources, however, the best cure for food poisoning is preventing it in the first place. To give you an idea of what human foods can be dangerous, Stacker has put together a slideshow of 30 common foods to avoid. Take a look to see if there are any that surprise you.

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