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    China’s Heat Waves Are Taking a Toll on Pets

    With temperatures rising, experts and pet owners say the animals require more care and attention.

    The record-breaking summer temperatures in China are not just affecting people — it’s also tormenting their pets.

    As the mercury rises for a prolonged period in many parts of China, domestic animals such as cats and dogs are becoming increasingly irritable and aggressive, according to experts and pet owners. Extreme heat, experts said, could harm or even endanger the lives of animals, as they have a lower tolerance to heat than humans.

    This year’s heat wave has resulted in a 20% increase in cases of pets suffering from heat stroke, including cats and dogs, in the eastern city of Nanjing compared with a year ago, local media reported. A veterinarian at Shanghai-based Uknow Animal Hospital told Sixth Tone that her hospital has received an increase in cases of heat stroke in animals over the past month.

    “When your pet shows symptoms of heat stroke, like heavy panting, agitation, or fainting, please send it to a vet as quickly as possible,” the veterinarian said.

    China’s heat waves have blanketed large swathes of the country this year. Shanghai reported temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius for the sixth time this summer on Thursday, breaking another heat record in the city.

    Sun Li, founder of the now-defunct dog healthcare app Dog Master, told Sixth Tone that animals, especially dogs, rely on their tongues and paws to dissipate heat, leaving them more vulnerable to high temperatures. He added that heat stroke and burnt paws were common injuries, and recommended walking dogs mostly during early mornings and evenings.

    On social media, many pet owners have been sharing how the extreme heat has been affecting their pets.

    “My dog panted for half an hour after walking outside for just 10 minutes,” one user on microblogging site Weibo wrote, along with a video showing her dog panting. “On hot days like this, we’d prefer to spend less time playing outside as it could run the risk of getting heat stroke.”

    Another pet owner, surnamed Lin, said on Weibo that he had left his dog at a pet care center in early July, and the facility told him that the dog had been lost. They eventually revealed that the animal had died of heat stroke.

    To help their furry friends cool down, many pet owners have shaved their fur, though experts discourage such a practice. They said it could lead to sunburn and even affect the animals mentally.

    “One of my dogs refused to go outside and stopped eating after I gave him a trim,” Xu Wenli, owner of two cats and two dogs, told Sixth Tone.

    Some pet owners are resorting to other means to cool their pets, including taking them to dog pools and buying products such as pet beverages, cooling mats, and cooling vests. Such amenities have recorded an increase in sales since the extreme heat hit China in mid-June, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper reported.

    Meanwhile, the heat has also made some animals more aggressive. A community doctor in the city of Meizhou in the southern Guangdong province, told local media that the number of patients seeking a rabies vaccine has nearly increased fivefold this summer. The doctor said that typical examples of aggressive behavior range from biting to scratching people.

    Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

    (Header image: Dogs rest under a truck to avoid sunshine in Qingdao, Shandong province, July 29, 2018. IC)