In the heat of the summer, when the temperatures start to soar, we need to take extra precautions to make sure our dogs are safe. Our dogs are just as adapted to climate-controlled conditions as we are and aren’t meant to be out in extreme heat.
We have some heat safety tips for your dog and advice on how to recognize when your dog might be suffering from the temperature. Keep reading to learn how you and your dog can continue to have a safe and fun summer!
Keep Your Dog Safe In The Heat
Don’t shave your dog! The minute shorts weather hits, a lot of people think it’s time to rush out and shave their dogs. This doesn’t just leave their dogs looking a little silly… it also removes the dog’s natural heat protection!
Your dog’s fur actually acts as a light layer of insulation that helps them stay cool. It also helps protect their skin from sunburns. Dogs that are shaved in hot weather have an increased risk of skin cancer and heat stroke.
Instead of a buzz cut, if you feel like your dog needs a trim, ask your dog’s groomer for a puppy cut. Your groomer will know exactly how much hair to take off while still leaving your dog protected from the sun’s rays.
Avoid the pavement- Concrete and asphalt hold in the heat. This might be great for reptiles to sun on, but it can leave your dog’s feet with some nasty burns.
On these hot summer days, it’s best to avoid the sidewalks and roads and stick to the grass. If this is impractical, you can protect your dog’s feet by purchasing them a pair of booties.
Keep exercise very early or late- If you have a very active dog, avoid intense sessions during the hottest part of the day. Your dog has a greater risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke if you try a difficult hike while the sun is high.
Try to arrange your schedule so you can go early in the morning before things have had time to heat up. Or make evenings your new workout time. If you absolutely need to give your dog some activity during the heat of the day, consider looking into an indoor dog park or dog daycare that is air conditioned.
Hydrate- Your dog might not sweat, but he is definitely losing moisture through panting. Make sure your dog has constant access to clean water when outside. If you are out and about, be sure to bring a water bottle and a dish or a specially designed water bottle for dogs. This will ensure your pup doesn’t dehydrate!
If you have a pool, make sure your dog is supervised- You might think your dog would never jump in the pool without you, but accidents happen. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, they may be injured or have trouble getting out.
Do not leave your dog alone in the car- This is a big one! If you have ever had to wait for your friend to run into their house while you sit in the car on a hot day, then you know just how fast a car heats up. Now imagine not being able to roll down the windows or open the door.
Even with the windows cracked, even if it’s just for a minute, don’t leave your dog in the car! Even on mild days, the temperatures inside a car can get intense, and your dog could be in danger within minutes.
Be very careful with flat-faced dogs- Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih-Tzus, these, and other brachycephalic dogs, are at extra risk when the temperatures get high. Due to their shortened nasal passages, they can overheat very quickly. If you have one of these dogs, make sure they don’t over-exert themselves in the heat. Keep walks short, and monitor them very closely if you’re outside.
Know The Signs Of Heat Exhaustion In Your Dog
When it feels like you could literally bake outside, it is important to know the signs that your dog may be in distress. Heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia, is the result of your dog's body temperature exceeding the normal range. On a very hot day, it is harder to regulate body temperature, especially since dogs pant instead of sweating.
Here are some symptoms of heat exhaustion to watch out for:
Excessive fast panting and drooling
Bright red or blue gums
A rapid pulse
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Treating Your Dog’s Heat Exhaustion
If your dog is showing any of these signs, get them inside quickly.
Soak them in cool, but not cold, water. Cold water can actually bring their temperature down too quickly and can be dangerous.
Put them in front of a fan, and monitor their temperature. A normal temperature for dogs is 102.5.
Give them small amounts of water to drink. Too much water at one time can cause GI upset.
If you can not get your dog’s body temperature to go down, get your dog to the veterinarian immediately. If your dog's body temperature gets too high, it will lead to heat stroke. This is a serious condition which can result in loss of consciousness and organ failure.
If your dog's body temperature does begin to lower, give your vet a call and find out if they would like you to bring your dog in. If your dog’s symptoms were mild, they will likely tell you to continue treating at home and to keep your dog calm and resting for a few days.
If they had more serious symptoms, your veterinarian will probably want you to come in so they can examine your dog.
Heat is no joke! But with the right safety precautions, you and your dog can fully enjoy the warm summer months. Since your dog can’t speak up, it’s important to lean on the side of caution. Your dog will certainly appreciate all the steps you take to keep them comfortable, healthy, and happy!