Sun’s out, tongues out! As we head into summer, and back into the world, it is a good time to review some tips to keep your pup safe in the heat. Keep in mind that the age and breed of your dog can have an impact on their susceptibility to overheating. Snub-nosed dogs, like pugs and bulldogs, are not as able to cool themselves off by panting the way that other breeds can. Older dogs and overweight dogs are at higher risk as well.
Most obviously and most importantly, don’t ever leave your dog in the car on a hot day. Not only is it very dangerous, it is also illegal in California! On an 85 degree day, your car interior can get up to 104 degrees in just ten minutes. Whenever possible, leave your pup at home where she or he is most comfortable.
When hanging out outdoors with your pet, hydration is key! Make sure there is plenty of fresh, cool water available and bring along a bottle for your dog if you are heading out for an adventure. There are great options available at your nearest dog store, Chewy.com, or on Amazon. My Minnie loves to chomp on ice cubes when we sit outside or after a good walk. There are also lots of healthy and dog-friendly snacks that you can share with your furry friend that have high water content and will help hydration. Ripe tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, celery, and iceberg lettuce are all great options! There are also a lot of great recipes online for frozen treats you can make your dog at home.
When taking your pooch for a walk, make sure you are going in the morning before the heat really kicks in or in the evening once it has cooled down and be mindful of where you are walking. If you can’t hold the back of your hand to the pavement for 7 seconds then it is too hot for your dog’s paws. If you need to take your pup out when the sidewalk or pavement has already heated up, you can invest in some booties to help protect her or his paws. It’ll take a little bit for your dog to get used to them, but reinforce the new apparel with lots of praise and treats and she or he will get used to them in no time!
Dogs sweat from their paws and they drink water and pant to bring their body temperature down. If you are spending a lot of time outdoors, keep an eye out for the following signs of heatstroke and dehydration: heavy panting, dry or bright red gums, thick drool, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, sunken eyes, loss of elasticity in the skin, and wobbly legs. If your dog starts presenting these signs, get her or him in the shade with cold water to drink. Put a cold, wet towel on him or her and rub the paws and belly with the towel. You need to bring your dog’s temperature back down to 100-102 degrees. If your dog gets to this state and is not recovering, contact your vet immediately.
Dogs can also get sunburned! If you have a dog with light fur and pink skin, you should apply sunscreen every 3-4 hours while you are outside. There are dog-specific brands that you can use to protect their more sensitive areas- like their bellies and noses- but don’t use human sunscreen on your pooch. Most contain harmful ingredients that are toxic for your dog if ingested. It is also not a good idea to shave dogs for the summer- their hair helps to protect their skin. In some cases, their fur actually plays a role in body temperature regulation. Just keep the coat short and free of knots and matts!
If you are planning to take your pup to the beach, make sure you bring something to provide shade. Be careful with your dog in the water- don’t let him or her drink the ocean water as it can make him or her sick and be observant as to whether there are any creatures around. Having available water for them to drink helps prevent them from drinking ocean water. Running on the beach is much tougher than running on solid ground, so be sure to watch to make sure your pet isn’t overdoing it. When you are done at the beach, give your pup a good rinse as the saltwater can damage your dog’s coat.
We hope everyone has a fun and safe summer with their furry friends! Pack your bag with all of the essentials and it is sure to be a fun and safe day with your pup.