Summer weather is here! Time to schedule weekend picnics, road trips, and B-B-Qs with the family, including your beloved furry ones! But as much as summertime is the opportunity to kick back, relax and enjoy the great weather, it’s also the time to pay extra attention to your dogs and make sure they stay cool as the summer temperatures begin to climb.
To help keep your dogs from overheating, here are seven summer care tips for you to remember:
1. Don’t ever leave your dog inside your car. Ever.
This is not negotiable. Every year, hundreds of heat-related dog deaths are reported because owners left their dogs inside their car for a “few minutes” with windows cracked open. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, temperatures inside cars can climb 20 degrees within 10 minutes. That can result in a 40-degree temperature difference inside and outside of your car in less than 30-minutes.
Cracking a window won’t make a big difference. In fact, there are many states that have made this illegal, and some that have legalised citizens to free a dog by any means necessary if they appear to be in danger, which can mean a broken window and potential animal cruelty charges. Hopefully knowing that it’s unsafe for your dog’s health is more than enough to remind you how serious a hot car can be.
2. Walk your dog early in the morning or late at night when it is cooler
Just like you wouldn’t want to be outside during the hottest part of the day, neither does your dog. Make sure to schedule a time during the cooler hours of the day to walk your dog, so that they are getting the exercise they need without the risk of overheating.
3. Bring water for you and your dogs when you go out for walks
Dogs can get dehydrated much like their owners, losing water when they pant, through their nose and their paws. Make sure to bring enough water for you and your furry companion when you go out for walks and look for signs of dehydration — including sunken eyes, loss of appetite, lethargy, excessive drooling and urination, loose skin, weak pulse, a dry mouth and depression. You might not notice signs that drastic if you happen to go for one longer walk than usual on a hot day, but if you do notice these signs it’s good to take action.
While carrying a water bowl may be inconvenient on long walks, there are other options including water bottles designed for dogs and foldable water bowls. Just make sure your dog is familiar with it before taking them out on a long walk.
4. Protect your dog’s skin with sunblock
It’s easy to assume that your dog wouldn’t need sunblock with all their fur and hair, but they do! Dogs get sunburned just like we do and so applying sunblock multiple times during the day is important as well as minimizing sun exposure. Make sure to look for a sunblock that is specifically formulated with dogs in mind and make sure to keep it out of their eyes when you apply it. Don’t use human sunblock, either. Dogs and their skin have specific needs, and not using pet formulated sunscreen could be damaging.
5. Stay off of hot surfaces and pavements
Imagine walking barefoot during a hot day, on the hot pavement or sidewalk. It sounds unbearable already, right? Place your hand or bare foot on the ground, and if you can’t last more than ten seconds, then maybe it is too hot for your dog for a walk. Use that as your gauge whenever you go out for a walk.
You may also want to consider walking at a later time or going on walks on cooler surfaces like grass or on the beach.
6. Give your dog a haircut or a trim, if your vet says it’s okay
Not all dogs should cut their hair or fur for the summer, some actually need it to stay cool during the summer months. So it is important to consult with your vet first before taking your dog in for a trim. But if they can benefit from a good trim to help them stay cool during the hot weather take them to a professional pet groomer.
7. Look out for warning signs of overheating
Dogs can’t sweat the same way you do to stay cool, so they have to pant excessively and release heat through their nose or their paws. Because of this, they can be susceptible to overheating, heat stroke and even death due to the heat, so it is important for owners to watch for signs of overheating, including noisy breathing, dry or pale gums and increased drooling. If you see any of these signs, it’s important to go see your veterinarian or go straight to the animal hospital to get them checked out, before it’s too late.
But don’t let all those warnings keep you inside! Summer can be a great time to get out of the house and enjoy the sun, exercise, and travel. The same goes for your pup, and they’ll probably enjoy the extra attention and time as much as you will. By keeping these tips in mind, you can stay safe and healthy. So enjoy your summer and stay cool all summer long with your furry companions by your side!