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Pet owners scramble to protect animals from scorching summer heat

This photo, provided by a reader, shows a cat resting on a marble mat. (Yonhap)
This photo, provided by a reader, shows a cat resting on a marble mat. (Yonhap)
Pet owners in the country appear to be doing everything they can to keep their animals cool in the sweltering summer weather.

Temperatures have climbed to the high 30s in many regions, putting dogs and cats, in particular, at risk of danger if they are left alone at home.

A 29-year-old office worker who lives in Yongsan, central Seoul, said he bought a marble mat and a cooling pillow for his two dogs. He also put ice packs under the sofa and in other parts of the house where the dogs like to be.

"When I come home, I always see one of them sleeping on the marble mat, which makes me happy," the person surnamed Jeong said. "I also put out both water and iced water for them to drink."

Others said they leave the air conditioning on when they go to work.

"It's so hot that it feels like you're in a rice cooker if the A/C isn't on," said a 31-year-old office worker who raises two cats, adding that she sets the air conditioner to 24 C when she leaves the house.

"When I think of my furry cats, I don't feel like my electricity bill is too high," she said.

For people living in small homes, it's an even bigger challenge.

A 26-year-old surnamed Han said he lives in a studio that is poorly ventilated and where the temperature can change drastically depending on whether the air conditioner is on.

"I once left the A/C on before I went to work because it was going to be an extremely hot day, and when I came home, I found my cat freezing," Han said. "Since then, I've put the timer on so that the A/C switches off after three hours."

As an extra precaution, Han said he has been buying a special type of lactic acid and feeding it to his cat so that it will not get stomach problems from being exposed to air conditioning for long periods of time.

Seo Kyoung-won, a professor of veterinary medicine at Seoul National University, said animals need to be kept in similar environments as humans and could otherwise get heat stroke in the scorching weather.

"If they get heat stroke, they may start breathing quickly and suffer from shock," she said. "Dogs and cats have similar body temperatures to humans, so it's best to keep them in temperatures that are comfortable for humans." (Yonhap)