Summer is here. The days are long and lazy, and you spend a lot more time outside doing fun summer things. But you know there are some precautions you need to take in the heat and sun, and there are some that you need to take for your best furry friend, too. To keep your dog happy and healthy, you need to pay attention to the summer heat and other conditions.
A Panting Dog Is A Hot Dog
You may find that during the summer your dog likes to lie on tile or linoleum floors, which are much cooler than the rug or carpet. He may like to lie in front of a fan, too. Many dogs like to swim, and this is a great way to cool down on a hot day. Even some fun in the water hose can help keep your dog cool and work off some energy at the same time.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Of course, you always want to have clean, cool, fresh water available for your dog, but during the summer months, it’s even more important. In the heat, it doesn’t take much for your dog to become dehydrated. It’s even worse for dogs that have thick fur. Even if your dog stays inside most of the time, the ambient temperature will affect him, so he needs to have plenty of fresh water in his bowl.
This is even more important if your dog is outside. You’ll want to remember to check the water bowl often and refill it with fresh water. If you are going to be walking or traveling with your dog, you should bring a water bottle and stop your dog to drink often.
Watch for the signs of dehydration – dry mouth, gums, and nose; reduced skin elasticity, reduced capillary refill and sunken eyes. If you think your dog is dehydrated, offer him only small amounts of water and get him to the vet immediately. Your vet will be able to decide if he is severely dehydrated and needs hydration therapy (fluids and electrolytes). Dehydration can come on quickly and can be very serious. It can do damage to your dogs’ internal organs, so be on the safe side and seek your veterinarian’s advice.
Cut Back on Exercise
You’ll still want to walk your dog, just to keep up with their regular exercise routine, but consider varying your routine when there are heat warnings. You could take a shorter walk or break it up into two halves. Another option would be to take your walk in the early morning or late in the evening, when it’s cooler outside.
When there is extreme heat you also want to limit the amount of exercise they get outside. If they like to run and play vigorously, it might be best to keep them inside until the weather cools down more. Or again, let them play outside in the early morning or late evening.
Check Walking Surfaces for Heat
Much like your own bare feet, your dog’s paws can be burned by walking on sidewalks or asphalt that is too hot. A good rule of thumb – or in this case, of hand – is to lay the back of your hand on the asphalt or sidewalk for 7 or more seconds. If it doesn’t burn your hand, it’s ok for your dog’s paws.
Stay Closer to Home
It is a good idea to stick close to your home in extreme heat no matter what you do. That way you can ask for help if a situation arises where you need it. For example, if you and your dog go on a hiking trail, and he becomes overheated, it will be hard to get help. But if you must travel and take your dog with you, be sure to take a bowl and water along. You will also want to be sure there is a shady, well-ventilated spot for your dog to hang out once you get to where you’re going if he is to stay outside.
Older or Overweight Dogs Needs Special Consideration
When you’re making your hot-weather decisions it’s important to think about the health of your dog. If it is very old, or overweight, you’ll need to take even more care. Older dogs require more hydration and rest anyway, and may need to stay inside completely during extreme heat. An overweight dog’s heart and cooling systems can be easily over-taxed in extreme heat.
Protect Your Dog From Sunburn
Yes, your dog can get sunburned! Dogs with white or light-colored fur are especially susceptible, but any dog can burn on their nose, the tips of their ears, around the eyes, or on their belly. Dogs with shorter coats are also more likely to burn. Because of this, you don’t want to shave your dog’s coat off in the summer. You do, however, want to thoroughly brush out his undercoat, as that will allow better air circulation. There are sunscreens made especially for dogs, which are better for dogs than sunscreens made for people, since your dog may try to lick it off.
Check for Ticks
Ticks are tiny insects that latch onto your dog’s skin and can carry diseases like Lyme disease. Ticks are very common in the warm weather, especially if you have a wooded area around your home, or if you and your dog explore wooded areas. Search through your dog’s fur daily and remove any ticks carefully with tweezers. If you find a deer tick you’ll need to get your dog evaluated at the vet. If you’re not sure what kind of tick you have found, put it in a sandwich bag and take it AND your dog to the vet. Your vet should be able to identify the tick and let you know if it is a disease carrier.
DO NOT Leave Your Dog in the Car!
A deadly mistake that many pet owners make is leaving their dog inside of a car. It doesn’t matter if your windows are cracked or not, and it doesn’t matter if you are “just going to be a few minutes”. A car is like an oven that can quickly become well over 100 degrees – even if it is only 70 degrees outside! I have a friend who says if she sees a dog (or a baby) left alone in a car, watch out because she’s breaking the window. Dogs die in hot cars!
Above all, use your common sense in the summer. Follow this advice to keep your dog happy, cool, and healthy this summer.
How do you keep your dog cool in the heat?