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Although the majority of people are happiest when the sun is shining, hot weather can take its toll on both us humans and our canine companions.
During the hotter months, it’s important to think about whether your dog is happy, healthy and comfortable. Disregarding the heat and carrying on as normal could even be fatal for your dog in extreme cases, so it’s not worth taking any risks.
We can’t change the weather, but we can make things easier on our pups.
Contents & Quick Navigation
Going For Walks
Your dog will still need to go for walks in hot weather, but you’ll have to plan ahead and be more careful than usual. This may mean changing your regular routine, but it’s worth it if it benefits your faithful hound.
When To Walk Your Dog
The key is choosing the right time of day to walk your dog. It’s hard to say exactly when to go walkies, as this will depend on the climate where you live. It’s generally best to avoid walking between the hours of 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
However, if you live in an extremely hot area, it might be best to stick to walking your dog very early in the morning, before it’s had a chance to heat up, and late at night, once the sun has gone down.
When it’s hot out you should follow the advice of the boy scouts and ‘always be prepared.‘
Dogs are susceptible to dehydration in hot weather, and when they’re on their walk they might not stop even when they’re overdoing it. Pack a bottle of water and a collapsible water bowl, so your pup can have a drink if they’ve been running around like nobody’s business.
Wrapping your dog in a cool, wet towel is the best option to beat heat stroke if they succumb while on a walk. It might seem cumbersome, but bringing a towel on your walk could save your pup’s life.
If your dog has any visible pink skin, you should also bring extra sunscreen, as well as applying it before you go out.
Watch Out For Hot Asphalt
Unless you drive your dog in the car straight to their walk place and can let them right out onto the grass, you probably have to walk your dog over asphalt.
What you might not realize is – because its black and absorbs the sun’s rays – asphalt gets extremely hot to the touch. Seeing as you probably wear shoes to walk your dog, it’s not a big deal to you, but it can be extremely harmful to your pup.
Dogs can get horrific burns on their paw pads from walking on hot asphalt, so you need to check that it’s cool enough before you walk them anywhere.
Touch the back of your hand directly to the asphalt. If you can hold it there comfortably for five to ten seconds, then it’s a-okay, but if it feels uncomfortably hot or burns your skin, then it’s also too hot for your dog’s paws!
Dogs Die In Hot Cars
We’re sure you’ve heard this phrase before in PSAs and seen it on posters, but we can’t stress it enough: dogs die in hot cars.
It’s not just something people say to be cautious, it happens tragically often, when it shouldn’t happen at all.
The fact is, leaving a dog in a hot car is dangerous. Even if you leave the windows open. Even if you’re only gone for 10 minutes. Even if the temperature’s in the 80s.
On a day when the temperature is just 85 degrees F, the temperature inside of a car with the windows left ajar can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes and 120 degrees within 30 minutes.
These kinds of temperatures can easily give your dog heatstroke, which is often fatal or causes irreparable organ damage.
If you can avoid it, don’t take your dog in the car at all during hot weather. If you do need to take your dog somewhere, such as the vets or the groomers, don’t leave them in a parked car. At all.
Take them in the car to their location and then take them straight back again when you’re done.
All About Heatstroke In Dogs
We’ve already mentioned heatstroke, but we think this is something all dog owners should know a bit more about. If caught early and treated correctly, your dog has a good chance of recovery. However, if nothing is done about it, it’s a condition which generally proves fatal.
Since dogs can’t sweat in the traditional sense, they find it more difficult to regulate their own body temperature. Add to that the fact they have their own natural woolly jumpers in the form of fur, and it’s potentially a recipe for disaster.
Once a dog overheats, they may not be able to bring their own temperature down quickly enough to avoid doing serious damage.
Looking out for symptoms of heatstroke and acting quickly if you spot them is vital. Taking steps to prevent heatstroke though is even better!
Symptoms Of Heatstroke
On especially hot days, you should look out for any unusual behaviors from your dog. According to PetMD, the symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Increased body temperature – above 103 degrees F
- Reddened gums
- Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sudden breathing distress
- Vomiting blood
- Passing blood in the stool
- Black, tarry stools
- Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding
- Changes in mental status
- Muscle tremors
- Wobbly, incoordinated or drunken gait or movement
- Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened
What To Do If Your Dog Shows Signs Of Heatstroke
If you notice signs of heatstroke, you need to act quickly to cool your dog down. There are several ways of doing this, but first of all make sure your dog is in a cool, shaded area.
Then you can either spray them with cool water, submerge their whole body (excluding their head) in cool water, wrap them in cool wet towels, or use fans to cool them down.
It’s important that you use cool water, not cold or iced water. This might sound counter intuitive, but very cold water can restrict the blood vessels, making cooling more difficult. Cooling your dog too quickly could also be damaging in other ways.
Once your dog’s temperature comes down to 103 degrees F (you should have a thermometer as part of your doggy first-aid kit, but if you don’t, go out and get one now), stop the cooling measures. Cooling your dog’s body temperature too low could be dangerous, so you don’t want to do that.
At this point, you need to take your pup to the vet right away. The vet may need to keep them overnight to have their body temperature monitored and ensure it’s staying stable. They will also want to make sure your dog hasn’t suffered any organ damage.
How To Prevent Heatstroke
Of course, the best thing is to avoid your dog getting heatstroke at all. There are times when these things happen due to circumstances outside your control, but if you’re careful with your dog in hot weather, there should be no reason for them to get heatstroke.
We’ve already discussed not walking your four-legged friends during the hottest part of the day, but you should also make sure they don’t exert themselves too much in general, for instance by dashing around in the yard while it’s hot.
In fact, it’s much cooler to be inside when it’s hot, so don’t go out and leave your dog outside unattended. When your dog’s home, there are plenty of great ways to keep them cool, which we’ll discuss below.
Keeping Cool At Home
Most dogs spend the majority of their time at home, so this is where it’s important to make sure your dog is safe and comfortable.
It’s easier to keep an eye on your canine companion and make sure they’re well when you’re home with them, but there are also plenty of ways to ensure your pup stays cool and happy even when you’re out and about and your dog is home alone.
Leave The A/C On
If you have air conditioning, leave it on during the hottest days, whether you’re home or spending the day out. You might consider it a waste of money to have your A/C running when you’re not in, but if you consider it will make your pooch much more comfortable, it’s a worthwhile expense.
Provide Plenty Of Water
We’re sure it goes without saying that your pup needs access to fresh water at all times, but this is even more vital during the summer months when your dog can easily get dehydrated.
Be aware, in hot weather, your dog might drink significantly more than usual. If you’re going to be gone for a good few hours it’s wise to put down an extra bowl of water to be sure they won’t run out.
Another trick is to pop a bunch of ice cubes into your dog’s water. This will help keep your pup’s water cool and fresh throughout the day.
Keep It Shady
Anyone who has ever met a dog will know they love nothing better than to insert themselves into any available sunspot. However, when it’s seriously hot outside, it’s much better that they stay in the shade.
A shady house will be significantly cooler than a sunny one, and will help your dog keep their core temperature lower, even if they’re running around and exerting themselves.
Help keep your home shady by drawing all your curtains and pulling down any blinds. This is especially important when you’re not home and can’t keep an eye on your pup’s temperature.
Go For A Paddle
If you want to have some summery fun with your dog while it’s too hot to be going on a full on walk, why not invest in a paddling pool so your dog can have a splash around?
Not only is it tons of fun, it will also help keep your furry friend cool while it’s hot out.
Make Some Cool Treats
We’ve talked about how to cool down your dog on the outside, but what about cooling down their insides, too?
The Humane Society of the United States has an excellent recipe for peanut butter dog popsicles, which are a tasty cooling treat for your pup. However, some dogs are also content just crunching down on ice cubes to help beat the heat.
Other Summer Considerations
Yes, we know, we’ve kept you for plenty long enough already, but we just have a few more things for you to consider regarding your dog and the summer months.
Get A Haircut
If you have a long-haired dog, then having a little trim can be beneficial in the summer time, to help keep them cooler. However, if you go too short it can be counter-productive, as a dog’s coat is designed, in part, to protect them from the heat. Especially the double coat of a Labrador!
We’d recommend going to a groomer who can trim your pup’s fur to an appropriate length. Never have your dog’s coat shaved too close to the skin, as this may cause your dog to get sunburned, which is not only uncomfortable, but increases the risk of skin cancer.
Be Careful Of Barbecues
If you have barbecues at home, just watch out for your dog’s well-being by never leaving your pup unattended in the yard with a hot barbecue. They could jump up to see what the tasty smell is all about and get a nasty burn on their paws.
That said, barbecues can be fun for dogs, with extra time in the yard, games of frisbee and delicious food. It’s okay for your dog to have a small amount of “people food” as a treat, but don’t go overboard, and make sure you don’t feed them anything they shouldn’t eat.
Human foods that can be toxic to dogs include chocolate, raisins, xylitol (a common sweetener), onions and grapes.
Fourth Of July Fun
If you’re a dog owner living in the United States, think about your dog on the fourth of July. Independence Day might be fun for people, but with all those bangs and crashes, it’s not much of a good time for our canine companions.
If your dog is bothered by fireworks, you should ideally try to stay home with them, but certainly make sure they’re safely and securely indoors where they can’t get hurt.
It may seem there’s a lot to think about when it comes to keeping your dog cool and happy during the hot summer months. And there is, but most of it’s just common sense at the end of day, it’s just sometimes we need a little provoking to bring these things to mind.
You and your four-legged friend should have a chance to enjoy the sunshine, just please be cautious of soaring temperatures and never risk the safety of your dog on a hot day.
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