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Warm weather is here! But the things that make spring and summertime so wonderful can also make it so dangerous for your pup. The hot weather and sunshine, though they feel great, can cause overheating or heatstroke in your dog. Summer should be the time to enjoy the outdoors together, so here are seven ways to keep your dog safe during the hot months and beat the heat:
The warmer weather means your dog is going to be more thirsty than normal. Always have access to clean and, preferably, cool water. For example, you can keep water bottles on hand when out and about and bring along pop-up water bowls. If you're driving somewhere, you can also keep a cooler with ice and water.
Always check the temperature of the ground outside before letting your pup walk on it. Pavement, asphalt and concrete can become hotter than the air, which can burn or damage your dog's paws. To check the temperature, place the back of your hand on the ground for at least 10 seconds - if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog.
Pro Tip: Buy some booties for your dog to protect their paws while walking on hot surfaces.
When enjoy the outdoors, it's best to spend the majority of your time out of the sun. Find some shade to sit in or, if you can't find any, bring along a tarp or blanket to create your own shady spot. In addition, try to avoid being outside during the hottest hours of the day. Generally, the peak heat hours are noon to 3:00pm, when the sun is highest in the sky and more heat is accumulating on earth than leaving it.
Pro Tip: Doghouses can actually get hotter than the outside temperature because there's no air flow, so it's usually best to avoid putting your dog there in the heat.
Another way to beat the heat, which applies to some (but not all) dogs, is grooming. Getting your dog's fur cut short can help cool them down during spring and summer. But this is only an option for certain breeds, so it's best to consult a vet or research if your dog could benefit from a summer cut. Other breeds need their fur to trap air close to their skin and keep it the same temperature as their ideal body temperature. So cutting certain dogs' fur too short can increase the risk of heatstroke and sunburn. It's also recommended you use sunscreen made for dogs on breeds with short or light-colored fur as they have a higher risk of sunburn. In addition, hairless breeds require the use of sunscreen for dogs.
Pro Tip: Canine sunscreens can be useful for more exposed body parts like the nose, abdomen and groin.
This is a pretty well-known thing, but important to repeat: never leave your dog alone in a hot car. Cars can quickly reach dangerous levels of heat, easily becoming 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. And leaving the windows open isn't enough to cool the car down to safe temperatures. If you have tasks at places that don't allow dogs, it's best to keep your pup at home or take him to daycare.
Frozen treats are a great way to help your dog cool down on a hot summer day. You can make your own by freezing bananas, pumpkin, watermelon, or other dog-safe goodie. You can also buy canine ice creams at the store. Just make sure to take the extra calories into account for your dog's following meals.
Another way to cool down is going for a swim, but only if your dog can and enjoys it. That being said, even dogs who have the ability to swim can become tired, increasing their risk of drowning. It's recommended you use a canine life vest to be safe. Certain breeds have more trouble swimming and should not go in the water. should not go swimming. These include brachycephalic dogs, puppies, seniors, those with large and heavy heads, and those with short legs and long backs (like Basset Hounds and Dachshunds).
Summer is prime time for bugs and critters. Your pet should be protected from fleas and ticks all year, but particularly in the warmer months. Bees, wasps and hornets can also be an issue. Dogs are usually stung on the face or mouth, which often results in pain and yelping. But some dogs are allergic, which can be life-threatening. Signs of this include swelling of the eyes and face, difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and collapsing. An allergic reaction usually occurs 10 to 30 minutes after the sting, so call your vet immediately if you believe your dog is having one.
Bugs aren't the only animals that become more active during the summer. Other critters - like snakes and skunks - do too. Snake bites can be very dangerous to dogs, especially if the snake is venomous. They usually occur on the paw or face and cause swelling. Contact a vet immediately if your dog has been bitten by a snake. Skunks are less dangerous, but cause smelly issues. When threatened, they use their scent glands to release their oily, sulfuric scent with a high degree of accuracy from 10-15 feet away. To avoid these issues, keep an eye on your dog when he or she is outside.
It's always a good idea to be prepared, just in case, and knowing the signs of heatstroke can save lives. If you see your dog excessively panting without resolution, it can indicate heatstroke. Other signs include dark red or purple tongue, difficulty breathing, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat and vomiting.
Pro Tip: Brachycephalic breeds (those with short muzzles), overweight dogs, dogs with thick or heavy fur, and older dogs are more prone to heatstroke.