Written by contributing author and LubriSynHA staff member, Christian Ackman.
Summer is quickly approaching, and while we’re all looking forward to ditching the winter blues and soaking up some sun, we can’t forget about our favorite four legged friends. We love to let our pups tag along on all of our favorite adventures, but sometimes the heat can be harmful to them. There are some things we should keep an eye out for, as well as some steps we can follow to keep our dogs cool and comfortable. With the right information and tools, we can be proactive and enjoy a summer full of doggy adventures.
The extreme summer temperatures make it difficult for a dog to regulate their internal temperatures. As their body overheats, they become at risk to heat stroke. In severe cases, organs begin to shut down, and it can lead to death. Normally dogs give us warning signs that they are becoming too hot. These include rapid panting, redness in the inner ear, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your dog begins with any of these symptoms, get them inside to air conditioning as soon as possible! Offer them water, and pat their skin with a damp cloth. Do not give your dog anything cold to eat or drink.
To properly cool down, it has to be done over time, and rushing it can do more harm than good. If your dog still shows signs of overheating after efforts to cool them down, get them to a Veterinarian immediately. If you think your dog has cooled back down, it is still best to call your Vet and get their professional opinion. Some dogs are at a higher risk for heat stroke, depending on their breed, age, weight or certain health conditions. Even if your dog is healthy and active, it does not mean they are safe from heat stroke. Always be on the lookout for symptoms of overheating in the warm summer months.
Heat stroke is scary, and no one ever wants to experience that as a dog owner. There are proactive steps we can take to help reduce the risk of our favorite furry friend from overheating.
- Fresh water should always be accessible. Staying hydrated is extremely important, and reduces the risk of overheating. If you are on the go, and can’t keep a bowl down for your dog, there are great portable options.
- Swimming is a great way to keep them from getting too hot. If they don’t like swimming, sprinklers or a shallow kiddie pool are both good alternatives.
- Cold or frozen treats are a good way to keep your dog cool, as long as they’re at a comfortable temperature. There are a lot of fun recipes for different frozen snacks for dogs, and you can find yourself enjoying it as much as your pup!
- Summer haircuts can be necessary for certain dogs. Dogs with short hair or a double coat are best left untrimmed. If you are unsure if your dog could benefit from a summer haircut, it is best to consult with your Veterinarian or a grooming professional.
- Avoid hot walking surfaces, such as asphalt or concrete. Dogs release heat through their tongue and the pads of their paws. It’s important that the bottoms of their feet don’t get too hot. A good way to check and see if the sidewalk is too hot for your dog is to press the back of your hand on the sidewalk for 7 seconds. If your hand gets hot, it’s a sure thing that your dog will be uncomfortable walking on this surface.
- Refrain from excessive exercise. Dogs can’t cool down as efficiently as we can, so it’s our responsibility to know when to quit. If your dog requires more exercise daily, try taking them out early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s cooler. If that isn’t an option, maybe divide their exercise into two or three workouts, giving them plenty of time to cool off in between.
- DO NOT leave your dog in the car. This is so important, and hopefully an obvious rule for your dog in the summertime. Even when parked in the shade with the windows down, the inside of a car can get up to over 115° very quickly. No quick trip is worth putting your dog through that kind of stress.
- Temperatures exceeding 85° become dangerous for our dogs. As a summertime rule of thumb, it’s probably best just to leave your dog at home if they’re expecting a hot day. As much as we enjoy bringing our dog along with us, it is not worth the risk to put our dogs through the stress of extreme heat.
Summer can be a fun time for you and your dog to enjoy outdoor activities, but we have to keep their specialized needs in mind. They depend on us to keep them safe and happy, and following a few basic steps can eliminate any worry or risk. Be proactive, and enjoy a great summer with your favorite companion.