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PHOENIX -- Leaders of the Arizona Animal Welfare League and Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are urging pet owners to not leave their animals in the car.

A cracked window does little to protect them from a heat-related illness or death.

"It's not pleasant," said Michelle Ramos. "They suffer quite a bit."

Dogs are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness because they can only cool off by panting and through the pads of their feet. A dog's normal body temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees. A dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death.

The outdoors in general might not be kind to animals this summer. The AWLS has the following suggestions:

• Beware of hot pavement. Before walking, test the pavement, If it's too hot for the palm of your hand or your bare feet, it's too hot for your dog's paws too!

• Be careful not to over-exercise your pet. Only walk your dog early in the morning or at night, long after the sun has set.

• Make sure pets have a shady place to get out of the sun. If your dog must be outside during the day, be sure that it has shade available at all times, and remember, what is shady in the morning might not be shady in the afternoon. Keep pets indoors if the temperature is over 90 degrees.

• Be sure to give pets plenty of water. At all times provide cool, clean water in a nonmetal, spill-proof bowl.

• Dogs get sunburns too. Be sure no skin is exposed to direct sunlight.

Sandra Haros , Reporter

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