Summers can be pretty hard on dogs. As temperatures rise, so do their susceptibility to physical conditions like sunburn, foot pad burn, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Dog-owners have to be very aware of this and maintain an optimal environment for their pets, so they can enjoy the warm weather without falling sick or over-straining themselves:
# 1: Don’t allow your dogs to spend too much time walking on hot surfaces like cement and asphalt. Their bodies will heat faster from the reflected heat and there’s risk of burning their sensitive foot pads.
# 2: Never shave your dogs. We have already written a blog about the dangers of shaving double-coated dogs that you can find here. Trim single-coated dogs slightly if you must, but remember always that the hair is protecting them from direct sunrays.
# 3: NEVER leave your dog in a parked car, even if you have taken care to park in the shade. A closed-off car interior can reach oven-like temperature highs in a matter of minutes. Often times, dog-owners will leave their pet in the car, expecting to be back quickly, but things happen to delay them and the animal gets left inside a closed car, risking heat stroke and death. Simply don’t do it.
# 4: Make sure you always carry water with you when taking the dogs out. Offer water as often as possible. Different dogs have different hydration needs when battling the heat. Also keep in mind that darker coats absorb more heat than lighter coats and overweight dogs are at higher risk for dehydration.
# 5: At home, keep their drinking water cool and change it often.
# 6: For treats, give them seedless watermelon and honeydew. These fruits pack in a lot of moisture and cool dogs from the inside.
# 7: Give them a wipe-down if they’re looking overheated. Wash their feet and stomach.
# 8: Allow them to play in water – under supervision, for course.
# 9: Brush regularly and use a rake to remove dead hair debris. This will increase ventilation.
# 10: Reschedule walk times to early morning and after sundown as much as possible. Avoid times like mid-day when the sun is at its worst.
# 11: Monitor their activities because high-energy dogs sometimes do not realize when they are overheating and need to take a break.
# 12: If you find your dog digging in a shady patch, it often means that the animal is making its own, natural arrangements to stay cool. Let him/her do it, if possible.
# 13: If you don’t have sufficient cooling-off options like air conditioning and fans, encourage your pets to check out the basement. It’s the coolest part of the house, and they will be a lot safer there during punishingly hot afternoons.
# 14: If you feel your pet is disappointed about not getting a nice, long exercise when it is too hot out, let the animal step outside to check the weather. It will help him/her understand why you’re cutting this daily treat short.
# 15: Since dogs cannot sweat, you have to watch for signs of dehydration. Like drooling excessively when panting, lethargy, bloodshot eyes, increased heartbeat, staggering, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. If a rectal temperature reading is 105 degrees or greater, the dog is in risk of a heatstroke. Take preventive measures and call your vet immediately.
# 16: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in dogs, and during summers they need protecting from direct sunrays. You can use sunscreen for dogs if yours is losing a lot of hair in balding patches or spending a lot of time outdoors. Be careful not to choose sunscreens with zinc oxide in them, as zinc is toxic for dogs. Apply sunscreen only to areas that are not fur-covered. Test the product on a small patch to make sure all is fine before using any sunscreen on your pet.