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the Dog Blog

Weathering the Dog Days of Summer

Weathering the Dog Days of Summer

5 Ways to Help Your Dog Stay Safe in the Summer Heat

While summer is an exciting time for everyone, it’s no fun if your best friend isn’t feeling well. From heat stroke to hot cars, dehydration to pesticides, summer is full of risks for pets. That’s why we’ve put together this checklist to help you make sure you have a safe and healthy summer with your furry friend. 

1. Avoiding Heat Stroke. Dogs are more likely to suffer from heat stroke than humans, simply because dogs don’t sweat like humans do. Other than losing a little sweat through their foot pads and noses, dogs primarily cool down through panting. To help your pooch avoid suffering heat stroke, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water and shade at all times.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, set up a floor (box) fan that your pet can lie in front of to stay cool.
  • Tie a wet bandana around your dog’s neck when you plan to be outdoors.
  • Always take water with you for your dog when walking or playing in the park.
  • Limit playing and walking your dog to cooler times of the day (Before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m. is a good guideline). Avoid wet pavement and asphalt.
  • When recreating outdoors, be sure to find a shady place, or invest in a small beach tent your dog can sit under to escape the heat of the sun.

Even if you prepare, the unexpected could take place and your dog may still suffer heat stroke. Here are five warning signs that your dog is overheating:

  1. He appears sluggish, apathetic or disoriented after being outdoors.
  2. He is panting hard and short of breath.
  3. His tongue is bright red, he is drooling excessively or frothing at the mouth.
  4. He shows mobility problems such as staggering when trying to walk.
  5. He is vomiting after being in the heat.

So, what can you do if your dog is suffering from heat stroke?

  1. Get him indoors to a cool place immediately, either in an air conditioned room or in the basement.
  2. Call or visit a vet as soon as possible—even if your dog seems better, he could be suffering internal damage that you can’t see.
  3. Place cool, wet cloths on the back of his head and on his foot pads.
  4. Offer him cool water, but don’t force him to drink—and don’t let him drink too much too quickly.
  5. If your dog has collapsed or lost consciousness, do not delay—get him to your vet or an animal ER right away.

2. Avoid Dehydration. Water is the watchword when the heat is on. Dehydration is a very real risk for animals in the summer, particularly if they spend much time outdoors, so always, always provide access to water—and keep that water bowl filled. Signs of dehydration can include:

  • Dry, sticky gums.
  • Excessive drooling or thick saliva.
  • Lethargy or weakness.
  • Sunken eyes.
  • Loss of skin elasticity. You can check this one by pulling lightly on your dog’s skin —if it doesn’t go back in place, your dog may be dehydrated.

3. Never, Never Leave Your Dog in the Car. Many people think a few minutes in the car can’t do any real harm. But, on a 70-degree day, your car interior can heat up to 100 degrees in a very short period of time. Bump that air temp up to 80° and the inside of your car can reach 172 degrees in just 15 minutes.* So please—either take your dog in with you, or leave him at home if you can’t. Otherwise your dog could quickly suffer heatstroke or even death in a car that has become too hot.

4. Watch for Hot Asphalt. Many pet owners don’t consider the price their pups may pay when walking on hot asphalt. A good way to tell if the blacktop is too hot for your furry friend is to place your hand on it for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for you to hold your hand on it for that long, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on. Another way to tell is to follow this chart, keeping in mind that it is based on a “worst-case scenario” of having direct sun, low humidity, and no wind.

Outdoor Temperature Asphalt Temperature
77° 125°
86° 135°
87° 143°

Be careful not to make the mistake of thinking the white concrete on sidewalks is safer. It can also become incredibly hot during the afternoon if it’s in direct sunlight. Again, walking your dog early in the morning or later in the evening can help you avoid the dangers that hot temperatures pose to his sensitive paws. You can also purchase booties for your pet to prevent scorching his foot pads.

5. Avoid Chemical Dangers. Summer presents its own set of chemical dangers for our pets. Garage doors tend to be left open (our own and our neighbors), exposing dogs to hazards like antifreeze, which can leak out of cars onto the garage floor.

Other chemical dangers include lawns being treated with pesticides and fertilizer during the summer. While some companies will post signs on lawns that are being treated, not all do. So try to keep your pet off of neighboring lawns during the summer.

Following the above guidelines can help you and your pet have a much more enjoyable time together this summer. And that’s what having a pet is all about!

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  • Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 

What are some of the ways you keep your dog safe and healthy during the summer? We’d love to hear your comments below!

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