Summertime is one of the best seasons to have fun with your dog. Walks in the park, hikes in the mountains, swimming and picnics are just a few of the activities you can share. The weather is warm, the kids are out of school and you have more time. But the heat of summer can also be dangerous and cause Hyperthermia or Heatstroke. By following a few summer dog safety tips, you can keep your dog healthy and enjoy the months of fun in the sun.
Never leave your dog in the car. It seems that we should all know this one. We hear the warnings every year and read the headlines “Dog Dies in Car”. It should be common sense, but each year, animals die because they are left in cars “just for a moment.” Though it may seem cool outside, the sun can raise the temperature inside your car to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes, even with the windows rolled down. If you need to run some errands, leave your dog at home.
Have fresh water available at all times. Whether you’re indoors or out, both you and your dog need to drink lots of fresh water during the summer, so check your dog’s water bowl several times a day to be sure it’s full. If you and your dog venture out for the afternoon, take plenty of water for both of you.
Keep your dog well groomed. Keeping your dog well groomed will help the fur do what it was designed to do: protect her from the sun and insulate her from the heat.
Make sure your dog doesn’t overexert itself. Though exercise is an important part of keeping your dog or cat at a healthy weight, which helps her body stay cool, overdoing it can cause her to overheat. Plan your exercise times for early morning or evening when the temperatures are cooler. Keep the walks to an easy pace and make sure you both have plenty of water. If you dog is panting a lot or seems exhausted, it’s time to stop.
Know your dog’s limits. Elderly, very young, and ill dogs have a difficult time regulating their body temperature, so make sure they stay cool and out of the sun on hot days. Dogs with short noses such as pugs, shihtzus and bulldogs (just to name a few) have a hard time staying cool because they can’t pant efficiently. Overweight dogs are also more prone to overheating, because their extra layers of fat act as insulation, which traps heat in their bodies and restricts their breathing capabilities.
Bring them inside. Animals shouldn’t be left outside unsupervised on hot days. Shade can move throughout the afternoon, and dogs can become ill quickly if they overheat, so keep them inside as much as possible. If you must leave your dog outside, check on it often and bring it in when you can.
Pets need sunscreen, too. Though fur helps protect from the sun, your dog can get sunburned, particularly if it has light skin and hair. Sun can also bleach and damage the coat.
Know the signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke or Hyperthermia is a medical emergency. If you suspect your dog has heatstroke you must act quickly. Have someone call a veterinarian immediately. In the meantime, lower the animal’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body. Often the dog will respond quickly, only to falter again because his temperature is unstable. Even if your dog recovers quickly, it is imperative to get the animal to a veterinarian immediately.
Signs of Heatstroke: Panting, Staring, Anxious expression, Warm skin, Fever, Rapid heartbeat, Vomiting, Collapse.
Even with emergency treatment, heatstroke can be fatal. The best cure is prevention. By following the above steps and using common sense, summer can be a fun season for you, and your dog.