Summer Dog Safety Guide
As the temperatures heat up, so will your dog when they are outside. Some dogs can handle the heat while others are very sensitive to it. Either way, there are some things you can do to help your dog stay safe in the summer. Here is a summer dog safety guide to get you started:
1. Keep Your Dog Hydrated
It’s important that your dog has access to water year-round to stay hydrated and it’s especially important during the summer heat and the worst dog days of summer. When your dog is inside, make sure their water bowl is clean and has fresh water available. They’ll need to get a drink every now and then and will likely run to the water bowl when they come inside and after any bouts of play.
If you are out in the yard with your dog, have a bowl of water available for them while they are outside. This is also one of the summer BBQ safety tips for dogs. You can always store the bowl in a secure container or bring it inside to avoid attracting other animals. If you’re going on a long walk or a trip, bring a collapsible water bowl with you. It doesn’t take up much space and it allows you to give your pup a drink when you stop to hydrate yourself.
2. Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Another important way to protect your dog during the summer is to know the signs that they are starting to get overheated, so you can bring them inside to cool down. Dogs pant to cool themselves down, so the first sign that your dog might be getting overheated is excessive or heavy panting. Also, if they start moving more slowly or just lay down, they may be feeling the heat and need a cooler place to relax. These are early signs that your dog has had enough of the heat.
It’s important to also know the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is a serious health concern and can be fatal if left unattended or untreated. It occurs when your dog’s body can no longer regulate its temperature. If you see rapid panting, shortness of breath, a bright red tongue or gums, pale gums and thick saliva, or weakness and dizziness, it’s time to get your dog out of the heat and to the vet. More serious signs of heat stroke include vomiting, sometimes with blood, diarrhea, and shock or coma. If you see these more serious symptoms, it means your dog is in the throes of heat stroke and it is affecting the dog’s organs. It is imperative to get them to the vet as quickly as possible.
3. Understand Your Dog’s Limitations
Some dog breeds are particularly sensitive to heat. Brachycephalic, or snub-nosed, dogs like Pugs, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, and others tend to be sensitive to heat and overactivity. Thick-coated dogs are also more sensitive to the heat. If your dog has heart disease, is an older dog, or has breathing problems, it’s important to keep a close eye on them in the heat.
These dogs may get excited and overdo it, so you may have to step in and cut outside time short or limit the amount of time they can spend running before taking them inside for a break. If you understand your dog’s sensitivities and limitations, you can have strategies in place to protect them from the heat and prevent issues before they have a chance to start.
4. Don’t Forget to Apply Sunscreen
You need to apply sunscreen to protect your skin while you are outside, and so does your dog! Dogs with light skin, short hair, or thin hair are at risk for sunburn or skin cancer when left unprotected during sun exposure. You should look for a sunscreen that contains UVB and UVA protection, is non-staining, and is also fragrance-free. Your vet will be able to give you some good dog-friendly sunscreen options.
5. Do NOT Leave Your Dog in the Car
It should go without saying, but you should not leave your dog in the car, especially during the summer. In many places, it is illegal. During the summer heat, your car is like an oven and can become unbearable after only a minute or two. It may be sunny and 70 degrees, but a car will easily heat up to over 100 degrees in minutes, even with the windows cracked. Even cars that can be left on with the A/C running are usually not a good idea as most of them have an automatic shut-off.
6. Supervise Swimming Sessions
Whether at a private home pool or a public body of water, supervise your dog around swimming sessions. Contrary to assumptions from the “doggy paddle”, not all dogs are good swimmers. Even if they do enjoy a quick dip, they may not have the endurance to swim for very long.
When going swimming with your dog, it’s important to have the right equipment on hand, know your dog’s abilities, and supervise. Make sure to rinse your dog off after a swim session to remove salt, chlorine, or sand from their fur.
7. Beware of Hot Asphalt
Asphalt can get very hot during the summer. Not only can it cause your dog to heat up faster since they are closer to it, it can also burn their sensitive paw pads. Paw balm can help protect your dog’s paw pads to an extent. Generally, it’s better to limit how long your dog hangs out on asphalt in the summer.
A cement sidewalk will be a little cooler and grass will feel amazing on your pup’s paw pads. You do want to be wary of unknown grassy areas, however, as certain pesticides and fertilizers can irritate your dog.
With this summer dog safety guide on hand, you and your dog can enjoy summer together, worry-free!