Summer is here and that means high temperatures and humid days! However, you can still beat the heat and have fun safely! We’ve put together a list of important safety tips to keep in mind to keep you and your dog safe this summer.
A dog’s normal body temperature is between 100.5° and 102.5°. If their temperature rises to about 104°, signs of heat exhaustion may start to occur. If no action is taken and a dog’s temperature rises to between 107° and 109°, they are at an extremely high risk of heat stroke. If their body temperature remains at 104° or higher for 15 minutes or longer, they may collapse, fall into a seizure or coma, or experience organ failure or death. Short-nosed dogs, long-haired dogs, and young puppies are at a higher risk of heat stroke than others. That is why it is extremely important to keep these tips in mind at all times when outside with your puppy or dog.
Always carry enough water for you and your pup when going out and about. Consider having an additional water for your dog; they sell models that come with a built-in bowl or a bowl that collapses and is convenient for storage and travel. In addition make sure you and your dog are drinking enough water, you can also use a little excess water to cool your pup off! A safe way to do this is cupping the water in your hands and gently pouring it over your dog’s head, or applying it under their arms or belly. If you suspect your dog might be showing signs of heat stroke, do NOT submerge them in cold water. Call your Veterinarian immediately.
Seek shade and be mindful of how hot the asphalt, concrete, or even dirt may be
A good rule of thumb that our trainers practice is “if the sidewalk or road is too hot for your palm, it’s too hot for the dog’s paws.” Black asphalt absorbs heat above all other substrates, and skin deconstruction could happen in as little as 60 seconds. It’s important to be mindful that even in the upper 70’s or mid-80’s that those temperatures could cause the asphalt to feel 125° or hotter in direct sunlight. Keep to the grass and shade when possible.
Never leave your dog unattended outside in the heat, especially in the car
Leaving them for only a short period of time or rolling down the windows does NOT reduce the risk of heat stroke. If you’re going home from the dog park and want to run a quick errand or two, drop your dog off at home first.
Always be aware of your dog’s body language
Catching signs of a potential heat stroke early can make all the difference! Here are a few to look out for if you suspect your dog is overheating:
- Heavy panting, gasping for air
- Excessive thirst
- Bright red tongue, pale or bright gums
- Drooling, thick saliva
- Vomiting, diarrhea
- Lethargic, dizzy
If you fear your dog may be experiencing these symptoms, call your Veterinarian immediately.
Adjust your routine
While you may have an exercise routine, your dog won’t mind changing it up as temperatures climb. You can enjoy cooler walks in the early morning and late evening.
If you have a long-haired dog, who is at a higher risk of overheating, you may discuss a summer shave or haircut with your groomer. Depending on their breed, this could be an easy option to help your pet stay cool during summer months. Again, discuss with your breeder, as grooming them down too short could put them at risk for sunburn. If they or your Veterinarian deem it necessary, consider looking into sunscreen that is safe for your pet.
Make sure their home environment is cool and comfortable
In the summer months, if you kennel your dog, you may consider removing most or all blankets and/or crate mats so it’s just the cool, plastic bottom. A cooling mat may also be a nice temporary alternative to their normal mat or bed.
Try frozen treats!
Consider frozen summer treats in lieu of your regular training snacks or biscuits. Most recipes you can find are easily frozen in an ice cube tray, and made from an assortment of peanut butter, dog-safe fruits, yogurt, low-sodium broth, etc. We can’t forget the famous pup cup or doggy ice cream from local fast food joints or restaurants!
Stay up-to-date on your dog’s heartworm prevention
Even if your dog doesn’t go outside often or for long periods of time, mosquitos are plentiful once summer hits. While you can’t prevent your dog from getting bitten completely, you can prevent the spread of heartworms that mosquitoes spread. These pests transmit heartworm larvae from one dog to another when they draw blood. Having your dog on a preventative can protect them from a cough, fatigue, decreased appetite and weight loss. You can avoid the risk altogether by having a conversation with your Vet and putting your dog on a preventative that will protect them year round.
Practice water safety
Carry extra bottles of water for you and your pup so you can avoid your dog drinking from standing water, public water bowls, or streams. This protects them from bacteria and pollution. When you do decide to take a dip with your pooch in a trusted pool, lake, etc. or go for a ride on the boat, always make sure your dog is safe by having them wear a life jacket, and always make sure they are supervised!
Summer means hiking, swimming, barbecues, fireworks – and your dog should be able to enjoy those things alongside you! You can partake in these activities safely, while also doing your part to prevent heat stroke, heartworms, and sunburns for your dog, to the best of your ability. Practicing heat safety for you and your dog means another fun and memorable summer for the books!