When the temperature rises, the risk of heat stroke and other health problems rise as well – for humans and pets. That’s why it’s so important to do whatever you can to keep your beloved companion cool and safe during those hot summer months.
Here are a few simple tips to make sure your dog stays healthy and comfortable when the temperatures are at their peak.
Pay Attention to Humidity
Hot weather is bad enough – but mix in a lot of humidity, and things can get downright dangerous for your pup. Why? Because as you probably know, dogs pant to cool themselves down. And when a dog pants, they’re taking moisture out of their lungs, which, in turn, moves heat away from their bodies.
However, if the humidity is too high outside, this cooling system doesn’t work as well.
As a result, they can’t cool themselves properly, and their body temperature can quickly reach potentially life-threatening levels. A dog’s body temperature should never exceed 104 degrees. If it does, then they’ll be at a high risk for heat stroke.
If you see the signs of heat stroke, such as excessive panting or drooling, wrap the dog in cool — not cold — towels and get to the vet. The reason is that cold water could constrict the blood vessels and keep the heat from leaving the dog’s body.1
Keep Fido’s Coat Trimmed and Neat… but not TOO Trimmed
It’s very important that you have your dog’s coat trimmed on a regular basis – especially during the hot summer months. But it’s just as important to not cut it too close. Why? Because your dog’s coat actually helps protect them from sunburn and overheating. So, instead of that close shave, consider getting your groomer to give your pup a shorter cut instead. Also, be sure to groom your pup regularly. Matted hair can hold in heat, in addition to being uncomfortable for your dog.
Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car
You might think taking your dog along when you run errands is a good way to spend a little more time with your buddy. But when the weather turns hot, this could be a deadly mistake. Never leave your dog alone in a parked car – not even if the car is running and the air conditioner is on. Even on a relatively mild 85-degree day, the temperature inside your vehicle can exceed 100 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. Within 30 minutes, the temperature can exceed 120 degrees.
So make the safe, smart choice and leave your dog at home when you’re running around town on a hot day.
Just as with humans, our homes offer certain potential hazards for pets. These are some of the most common.
If you have a swimming pool, you should take many of the same precautions with your pets as you would with your children. Your dog might love being around the water, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to stay afloat. After all, some dog breeds are naturally better swimmers than others. Make sure your pooch has a flotation device, and introduce them to the water gradually, to ensure they stay safe. Also, be sure to rinse your pup off well when they get out of the pool, to remove salt and chlorine – both can irritate your dog’s skin, and make them scratch.
Open Windows and Doors
Another major household hazard is an open window without a screen. If you’re trying to cut down on your cooling costs by keeping your windows open, make sure that they’re screened, so your pets won’t fall out. Likewise, keep your screen doors tightly closed or, if you don’t have one, keep the door closed at all times, so your dog can’t get loose and run into the street.
Your yard can also be dangerous for pets during the summer, especially if you use insecticides on your garden or lawn. These products can be extremely toxic, so keep them out of “paws reach.” Follow the instructions closely when applying these products, and make sure you keep your pets in your home until the label says it’s safe for them to go outside. Also, keep bug repellant items — like tiki torches, citronella candles, and insect coils — away from your dog at all times.
Summer is the time of year where friends and family routinely gather to have a good time outside. This means barbecues, fireworks and, in many cases, the consumption of adult beverages. All of these can be hazardous to pets.
The types of foods and drinks that are usually served at backyard barbecues can be harmful to your dog. Don’t give your dog rib bones, for example. Your pooch could easily choke on the bone or suffer internal injuries if the bone splinters while they’re chewing. Hot dogs are filled with salt and preservatives, which could lead to a nasty bout of diarrhea.3 Grapes and raisins can lead to kidney problems, and as I’m sure you know — chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs.4
And be sure to keep the alcohol away from your dog. Alcoholic beverages can be poisonous for dogs, leading to vomiting and, in some severe instances, coma.5
Fireworks celebrations can be incredibly disturbing for pets. Never use them around your dog. The loud noises can scare your pup, and potentially leave them disoriented. I recommend keeping your dog inside during the fireworks.
Walking Your Dog
A dog’s paws are extremely sensitive to hot surfaces, so avoid walking your pup in the heat of the day. Try to take walks early in the morning or shortly before sunset. But no matter what time of day you take them outside, make sure there is plenty of water handy. Bring a bottle filled with cold water, as well as a small bowl, and take periodic breaks to make sure your dog stays hydrated.
Different Breeds React to Heat Differently
Excessive heat can be dangerous for any dog, no matter the breed. However, some dog breeds are more sensitive than others, including bulldogs, pugs, and boxers – and any other breed with a “flat” face. These dogs can’t pant as easily as other breeds with a longer snout. As a result, they can’t cool themselves as effectively.6
Be Alert to the Signs of Heat Stroke
If you plan on being outdoors with your dog on a hot day, make sure you know the signs of heat stroke. This is especially true if you have a puppy or a senior dog, or your pets aren’t used to exercising for long periods of time. You have to be even more careful if your dog has a respiratory or a heart problem. When in doubt, wait until the temps cool off a bit before you take your dog out for a walk.
There are several warning signs that your dog might be having an issue with the heat, including:
· Excessive thirst
· Extreme salivation
· Glazing of the eyes
· Heavy panting
· Rapid heartbeat
· Trouble breathing
· Trouble with coordination7
Fast action is necessary if you think that your dog is suffering from heat stroke. Here’s what you should do:
- Move your pup to an air-conditioned area or into the shade if you’re outside.
- Put a cold towel or ice pack on your dog’s head, neck, and chest.
- Run cool water over your pup to help lower body temperature. Do not use cold water – that could send your dog into shock.
- Give your dog a small amount of cool water to drink, or an ice cube to lick.
- Get your dog to the vet immediately.
The Last Word
It’s really tempting to want to spend time outside with our pets during the summertime. Everyone enjoys getting out on a beautiful day, after all. So by keeping these simple tips in mind, this will help ensure that you and your beloved companion have a great time together and stay safe.