Summer is here in full force and we know what that means. Beach time, vacations, cookouts and sunburns… We are constantly being reminded to stay cool, keep hydrated, and not to forget the sunblock. But also, let’s not forget about our pets. They are as susceptible to the sun and heat as we are. So here are a couple tips to keep your doggies cool and safe during these hot months.
1. NEVER Leave Your Pet In The Car. This seems like a very obvious statement but every year some brain dead individual will leave their pets and/or their children in the car during the summer only to end up on the evening news. I DESPISE these acts of idiocy. You hate the heat? Well your dog does too! Even cracking the window does not allow enough air flow to keep your car cool in the summer and the heat can skyrocket to 120+ degrees in a matter of minutes. If you have to leave them in the car then they probably shouldn’t be going with you in the first place. It’s hot in there.
2. HYDRATION, HYDRATION, HYDRATION! This should go without saying but animals get dehydrated as easily as we do and the more time they spend in the heat, the more care has to be given to ensure they are staying hydrated. Puppies, especially are like kids. They can play outside forever, get caught up in the fun, and forget to drink. Don’t let your pets overdue it. Keep them hydrated and force them to take time out from playing. Also, be aware of your breed. Giant breeds have a tendency to wear down quicker and can’t take as much play time as smaller dogs. Throw some ice in the water bowl from time to time. It’s refreshing for your pooch and the ice is stimulating for them.
3. Pay Attention To Their Paws. We all know how hot asphalt, sand and concrete can get during the summer. Dogs are very susceptible to paw damage during these times. Dogs who regularly run outside will build up thick skin on the bottom of their paws that acts as a barrier to heat and rough terrain. If your pet spends most of their time indoors, they may not have had the opportunity to build of this callused pad and even a little bit of running on hot jagged terrain can cause some serious damage. Try to keep your dogs play time in a soft grassy area and regularly check their paws for cuts and damage. Most dogs will let you know if they are hurting, but stay on top of it. If light cuts occur, use an antibacterial wash and lightly apply a bandage. For deeper wounds be sure to take them to your vet. It’s important to keep nails trimmed as well so that they don’t get caught when they are running.
4. Do Not Shave Your Dog! This is actually a pet peeve of mine. Just because you like your hair short or shaved during the summer, doesn’t necessarily mean this is the best idea for your pet. Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans do… They pant. Their hair acts like an insulation during the winter AND summer months. By shaving your pet, they are more exposed to the sun and have a higher chance of getting sun burned. They also can’t cool down as readily. Regularly brush your pet to ensure excess hair isn’t causing any problems and leave their hair alone. If you must, just simply trim them.
5. Identification Tags. Summer time brings vacations and many of us will be traveling with our pets. There is a greater risk of them getting away from us since their curiosity takes over in new places. Double check your pets identification tags to make sure all of the information is correct. If using a chip, ensure vet info and address is correct. Collar tags can disappear from time to time by getting caught on various objects of through rough play. Regularly check to make sure your dog is still carrying their tag.
6. Sunscreen! Our pets are just as susceptible to the sun as we are. Sun can have the same damaging affects on their skin as it does on ours: burns, pain, peeling, cancer. Some dogs are more sensitive due to having lighter skin and fur. If your pet is going to be outside for any extended amount of time during the summer, slather up their noes and exposed areas first, including their tummies. And remember that lighter colored dogs need more sunscreen.
7. Be Cautious On Humid Days. The humidity interferes with our pets ability to cool themselves. Through panting, the air that moves through the dogs nasal passage can pick up excess heat from their body and is expelled as they pant. High humidity decreases the effectiveness of them being able to rid themselves of the heat. On humid days take it easy or stay indoors.
8. Protect Your Pet From Parasites, Fleas, And Ticks. Make sure they are on regular heartworm, flea and tick medication. Summer time is full of nasty bugs and if you don’t protect your pets they could come down with all kinds of parasites that could be detrimental to their health.
9. Take Care With Swim Time. Just because your dog loves to swim does not mean he or she is a good swimmer. Always keep your eyes on your dog wether they are in a pool, at the beach, or in a lake. If they are comfortable wearing life preservers, then keep them on them while they are in the water. You could also provide a kiddie pool for your pet. They will love playing in the water, be able to cool off quickly and not worry about drowning.
10. Watch Out For Heatstroke. I’ll keep this one simple. If you notice the following signs, seek medical attention for pet immediately and apply cold wet towels to their exposed areas in an effort to cool them down:
- Excessive Panting
- Anxious Expression
- Refusal To Obey Commands
- Warm, Dry Skin
- High Fever
- Rapid Heartbeat