Across the country, many locations have experienced a long, hot summer with more hot weather on the horizon. While it’s tough on humans, it’s also difficult—and dangerous—for the dogs and cats in our families. Imagine going out under the summer sun wearing a fur coat and fur hat!
Along with their heavy coats, dogs and cats are also at extra risk during hot weather due to the fact that they don’t perspire like humans. Dogs primarily cool themselves by panting and that panting is somewhat restricted in brachycephalic or short-nosed dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs. Keep an extra careful eye on these dogs during hot weather.
All cats and dogs—whether short-nosed or not—are susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To keep your pets cool during the dog days of summer, keep in mind these tips:
- Never leave a pet in the car. Even with cracked windows, temperatures can soar within just minutes in a closed car. Never leave a pet alone in the car. Plan to leave the motor running with the air-conditioner on? Realize that, should the car stop running, the temperatures will soar to oven levels within minutes.
- Always have fresh, cool water available. Dogs and cats both need to drink plenty of water during warm weather. You can make sure they stay hydrated by having multiple water bowls that, if outdoors, remain in the shade so they’ll stay cool. Change the water daily. If you’re out and about with your pets, carry bottled water to give during your walk.
- Take advantage of air-conditioning. Just like us, dogs appreciate air conditioning. The time your dog spends indoors with you enjoying that AC is one more bonding experience for the two of you to share.
- Have plenty of shade. If your dog will be outdoors, make sure he has plenty of shady options for naptime. Even better, lightly wet down a special area for him to lie; instinctively dogs will dig to reach cooler dirt.
- Walk early. Take your dog walks extra early and extra late every day when temperatures are somewhat cooler.
- Be wary of muzzles. If you need to muzzle your dog, be sure to use a basket-type muzzle like police dogs use; these allow your dog to open his mouth for panting. Many less-expensive muzzles are dangerous because they don’t allow your dog to open his jaw and pant freely.
- Watch for hot pavement. Would you walk barefoot down a hot asphalt road? If the pavement’s too hot for you, it’s also too toasty for your dog’s pads which can become blistered. If your dog will be out on hot pavement, invest in some dog booties. (They’ll also come in handy this winter on ice and on sidewalks with de-icer!)
- Be alert to signs of heat stroke. Watch for heavy panting as if your dog is having a difficult time breathing. Thick saliva, bright red gums (that next turn gray), unsteadiness, diarrhea, and vomiting can signal heat stroke. If you see these signs, get your dog to a cool place immediately, lower his temperature by applying cool (not icy) water, and seek immediate veterinary assistance.
With some careful planning, you and your pets can enjoy the dog days of summer safely. Take advantage of the warm weather for an excursion with your cool canine to an area river or lake for some summer fun you’ll always remember!
About the Author: Certified dog trainer Paris Permenter, with her husband John Bigley, is the publisher of DogTipper.com, providing over 10,000 pages of dog tips and news. Paris and John have also authored of over 30 travel and pet books including the upcoming DogTipper’s Texas with Dogs (Open Road, distributed by Simon & Schuster).