(WWLP) – It’s important for pet owners to know the warning signs of heat stroke to keep pets safe during the dog days of summer.

Dogs don’t have the same ability to cool themselves as humans. While your body sweats to cool off, your dog’s pant is all they can do to try and release heat. According to the American Kennel Club, the following are heat stroke signs to watch out for:

  • Heavy panting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bright red gums
  • Increased heart rate
  • Blood pressure drops
  • Hyperventilation, dehydration
  • Collapse, seizure, or coma

It’s best to keep pets inside in the air conditioning, but if you do go out, dog owners should check their dog’s paws because they can get burned.

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Also, never leave your pet inside a vehicle on a hot day. It doesn’t have to be super hot outside for your car to heat up. The inside of a vehicle parked in 70-degree weather can reach 100 degrees in just 20 minutes. Studies have shown that even cracking a window doesn’t help.

A total of 31 states, including Massachusetts, have laws that prohibit leaving an animal in a confined vehicle under dangerous conditions. In Massachusetts, you could face a $1,000 fine or go to prison for up to one year.

If you suspect your animal is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, call your veterinarian immediately, as serious lasting effects like organ failure can happen as much as a few days after the event.