Dear Daisy Dog: I often take my dog, Gertie, to outdoor restaurants, concerts and other activities. The weather has been warm lately, and I'm wondering how I'll know if she's getting overheated. What are the signs of impending heatstroke?

Daisy responds: Watch Gertie closely, because heatstroke can develop fast. You need to be on the lookout for signs that the warm weather is beginning to stress her, so you can take action to prevent heat stroke.

Heat stress is marked by rapid breathing, excessive panting, bright pink gums, increased heart rate and/or decreased energy.

If you see any of these signs, get Gertie into an air conditioned building and offer her cool water. Cover her with wet towels or spray her with cool water. Don't use ice water or apply ice to her skin, because that will constrict her blood vessels and impair heat dissipation. A fan also can help cool her body.

Any dog can develop heat stroke, but certain dogs are at increased risk: youngsters and seniors, overweight dogs, those with short muzzles or thick coats and dogs with health problems such as heart disease or laryngeal paralysis.

Half of all dogs that develop heatstroke die of it, despite veterinary treatment, so it's important to recognize the early signs and prevent it.

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Dear Christopher Cat: We found a tiny kitten on the road. How do we know its sex? It has fleas and black stuff in its ears. Are these ear mites? If so, how do we kill them?

Christopher responds: To determine your kitten's gender, look under the tail. A female's vulva appears as a vertical slit just below the anus. A male kitten has a round penis further down from the anus. Between the anus and penis is the scrotum, where you may see two tiny testicles.

Once you know your kitten's sex, decide on a name and take the kitten to a veterinarian. If you can't figure out your kitty's gender, the vet will tell you.

Your veterinarian will do a thorough physical and examine the black ear debris under the microscope to determine whether your kitten has mites. Then the vet will advise you about appropriate treatment for fleas, ear mites and any other problems.

Many veterinarians prescribe Revolution or Advantage Multi to kill fleas and ear mites. Each of these remarkable medications also prevents heartworm disease and kills roundworms and hookworms, two intestinal parasites that can infect humans. The product is applied to the kitty's skin monthly.

Your veterinarian also will vaccinate your kitten, do a simple blood test to ensure that your kitty is free of feline leukemia and immunodeficiency viruses, and answer your questions about your new pet.

Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine. Contact them at www.askthevetspets.com.