When the temperature rises, your dog's health could be at risk, especially if you don't take the proper precautions. But don't worry, we have the tips to keep your pup safe and feeling good, even in the heat. The main thing is to be aware of summer risks and how your dog is taking the heat. That way, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for both you and your pup.
These Safety Tips Will Help Protect Your Dog
We want our dogs to enjoy their summers with us. But our pups are susceptible to all the same health issues we experience when temperatures go up. That's why it's important to implement some precautions for their safety and wellness.
1. Get Them Groomed
Regular grooming is essential for maintaining your dog's overall health, and this becomes even more critical during the summer months. Summer grooming can make your dog more comfortable in the heat, help prevent heat-related issues, and minimize the risk of skin conditions that can arise from sweat, dirt, and increased outdoor activity.
Trimming the coat can help your pet stay cool (if it's appropriate for your dog's breed), while thorough brushing removes loose hair and prevents overheating. Cleaning and checking their ears regularly helps prevent infections that might occur from increased swimming or moisture. Grooming also provides an excellent opportunity to check for ticks and fleas, which are more prevalent in the summer months.
Important note: Completely shaving your dog's coat isn't the way to go here. Your pet's fur actually creates a layer of protection - their coat serves as a natural form of climate control around their bodies. Plus, if you have them shaved down, their skin becomes susceptible to sunburn. Go with a decent trim and lighten their coat up - if it's right for their breed - but don't take it all off.
Regular grooming can also reduce the chances of matting, which can trap heat and cause skin irritation.
2. Get Them Booties for Hot Ground
The scorching heat of summer can cause pavement, sidewalks, and sand at the beach to become extremely hot, posing a risk of burns to your dog's paws. By using dog booties, you provide a protective barrier between your pet's paws and the hot ground.
Booties can help prevent burns and blisters, and also protect against rough or sharp surfaces that might cause injury. While it may take a bit of time for your dog to get used to wearing them, dog booties can offer peace of mind knowing your pet's paws are safe during those summer walks or outings.
3. Plan to Keep Your Dog Cool
Keeping your dog cool during the summer is crucial to prevent overheating and the risk of heatstroke. There are several effective strategies you can implement to help your dog cool off, including:
- Maintain hydration: Always ensure that your dog has access to fresh, cool water to keep them hydrated. You can add ice cubes to the water for an extra cooling effect.
- Offer plenty of shade: Provide a shaded area where your dog can retreat from the sun's rays, whether it's under a tree, a porch, or a specially designed pet canopy.
- A Cooling Mat: Consider investing in a cooling mat or vest for your dog to lay on or wear during the hottest parts of the day.
- Take walks at dawn and dusk: Avoid vigorous exercise during peak heat hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., instead opting for early morning or late evening walks when temperatures are cooler.
Never leave your dog in an unattended car, not even for five minutes in the shade. The car can get 30 to 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) hotter inside very quickly and cause heat stroke.
4. Take Advantage of Sunscreen
Sunscreen for dogs is an often overlooked but crucial part of summer care for our canine companions. Like us, dogs can get sunburned, particularly those with short or light-colored hair. Anywhere your dog's skin is more exposed - around their ears and nose, for example - also burns more easily.
Sunburn in dogs can lead to similar discomfort we experience, including red, inflamed skin that's hot to the touch, and peeling or flaking. Fortunately, there are sunscreens specifically formulated for dogs that are safe if licked off and effective in blocking harmful UV rays. It's important to remember never to use sunscreen meant for humans on dogs, as they can contain ingredients like zinc oxide that are toxic to them.
When applying sunscreen, pay particular attention to areas that are most exposed, such as your dog's nose, ears, belly, and any bald spots. If your dog's coat is short, they're probably more prone to burning in the sun too.
5. Take Your Dog for a Swim
Taking your dog for a swim can help keep them cool down in the summer months. If you don't have any bodies of water nearby, you may also want to consider investing in a doggie pool. There are a lot of options out there. Most of which are made of a material that won't pop when your dog's claws dig into them. Your pup will have fun sploshing and splashing all over the place in the summer heat.
6. Get Them Wet
If you can't get your dog in a pool for whatever reason and it's especially hot out, you can still wet their coat down to cool them off. Use your hose or even a spray bottle (though a lot of dogs don't like to be sprayed) and make sure you get their coat damp. As the water evaporates, it carries heat away from your dog's body, which is what you want.
Summertime Dangers for Canines
Although summer can be full of fun and adventure, there are several dangers to be aware of.
- Heatstroke or overheating: This is a big one. Heatstroke in dogs is potentially fatal, and it occurs when a dog's body temperature rises significantly above normal, leading to symptoms such as excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, and in severe cases, seizures or loss of consciousness. Watch out for leaving your dog in a hot car - it can do serious damage.
- Dehydration: Dehydration in dogs is a serious health concern often exacerbated during hot weather. Your dog gets dehydrated when they lose more bodily fluids than they take in, leading to symptoms such as lethargy, dry gums, excessive panting, and a decreased appetite.
- Sunburn: Often overlooked but still potentially harmful, sunburn in dogs can happen when your pup has prolonged exposure to the sun. This is particularly an issue for dogs with short or light-colored hair, leading to symptoms such as red, inflamed skin, discomfort, and increased risk of skin cancer in the long-run.
- Insect bites: Insect bites in dogs over the summer can lead to irritation, discomfort, allergic reactions, and sometimes, transmission of diseases such as heartworm and Lyme disease, making it essential to take preventative measures.
Stay Prepared During the Summer
It is our responsibility to ensure our furry family members are safe and comfortable during the summer heat. Summer brings a unique set of challenges, but preparing your dog for these risks means you can give them a safer, more enjoyable summer. And who doesn't want to have fun all summertime long with their dog? It's win-win.