Plus one thing you should always avoid
Summer has arrived. The air is thick, the sun is bright, and the temperatures are soaring. Unfortunately, the so-called “dog days of summer” bring plenty health-related risks to our furry friends.
How to keep your pooch cool (and safe) on hot days
1. Ensure your dog has access to plenty of shade and fresh water
If you’re out enjoying some fun in the sun, make sure your dog has access to plenty of shade. And don’t forget to refill his water frequently as it can get hot quickly on a steamy summer day — especially if it’s in a metal bowl.
How hot is too hot? Unfortunately, there’s no magic number to tell when it’s unsafe for a dog to be outdoors. It all depends on your specific pup. Age, health, breed, and even fur color all play a role. Check on your sidekick frequently and give them opportunities to go indoors and soak up some AC if they seem uncomfortable.
2. Check the pavement before you walk your dog
As a general rule, if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it’s also too hot for your dog. We suggest planning your walks in the morning and evening to avoid peak sun times when the ground can be dangerously hot and burn your pet’s paw pads.
Stick to the grass whenever you can and remember, if you’re enjoying a summer stroll and your dog starts lifting his paws, limping, or skipping, it’s time to head home.
3. Limit outdoor exercise
Your pup may think playing fetch for hours in the sun sounds like a great plan, but on hot summer days try to limit their exercise time and intensity.
High-energy dogs and those that love to play have a hard time knowing when they’ve had enough. They rely on you to make responsible choices for them. Try moving the fun inside — playing fetch with a soft toy inside or hide-and-seek with treats are great ways for your pup to burn physical and mental energy in a cool environment.
4. Be especially careful with short-nosed dogs
Brachiocephalic breeds, also called short-nosed or snub-nosed breeds (like Bulldogs, Pekingese, and Pugs) are at an increased risk for breathing issues when it’s hot out. Because of their unique facial structure, brachiocephalic breeds can’t pant as efficiently, which means they can’t cool down as efficiently either. This puts them at higher risk for heat stroke and other heat-related complications.
5. Watch for signs of heat stroke
Heat stroke occurs when your dog is unable to dissipate excess heat. Usually characterized by an internal body temperature of 106 degrees or higher, symptoms include excessive panting, rapid heart rate, red gums, and excessive drooling. Your dog may also look somewhat limp or droopy, like they’re extremely tired.
If you suspect your pup is suffering from heat stroke, get them inside right away and offer them plenty of cool water. If possible drape cool towels over their body or run a cool bath for your pup.
Pro tip: Skip the ice cubes. Ice and ice water can cause shock to your dog’s stomach making your four-legged friend even more uncomfortable.
Heat stroke is a serious medical condition that can lead to organ failure. If your dog is unable to move or walk, has labored breathing, or doesn’t seem as responsive as normal, take them to the vet right away.
Never leave your dog in the car
Seriously, just don’t do it. Not on a cloudy day. Not on a windy day. Not for “just five minutes.” There is no safe amount of time for a dog to remain in a hot car, and temperatures can rise extremely fast — even with your windows open. On a mild, 70-degree day, after just 30 minutes, the temperature inside a car can reach 104 degrees.
In addition to potential health risks, many cities and states have laws prohibiting leaving your pet in the car. So, if your plans entail leaving your pet in the car alone, opt to leave him at home instead.
Animal lovers know summer is best when it’s shared with your furry friend. Follow these tips to keep your pet safe and cool all season long.