The summers here are hot. We know we need to keep ourselves cool and safe from sun and heat-related dangers, but it’s easy to forget about our four-legged friends. Here are eight tips to help keep your dog safe, happy and healthy during the heat of summer.
1. If your dog likes to be outside, make sure he or she has a shady place to rest. Doghouses trap heat, so the shady place should be under a tree or other open area.
2. Put out a kiddie pool filled with cool water for your dog to sit in if needed.
3. Did you know that on an 80-degree day the temperature inside a car rises to over 100 degrees when turned off – even with the windows cracked? Never leave your dog in the car during the summer unless the air conditioner is on.
4. Black asphalt can burn your dog’s paws when hot from the sun. Protect your dog’s paws by walking your dog in the early morning or late at night, or allowing him or her to walk in the grass.
5. Dogs can sunburn too. If your dog has extremely short hair and pink skin, he or she is susceptible to sunburn just like we are. You can purchase sunscreen that’s designed for dogs and apply it to your dog’s skin and nose before prolonged sun exposure.
6. Always provide fresh, cool drinking water for your four-legged friend. Dogs can dehydrate quickly in the heat.
7. Consider using a cooling product. There are a few great products out there now that are designed to help cool pets, such as cooling pads for them to lay on and cooling vests for them to wear that have special nontoxic polymer crystals that expand in water and cool your pet for hours as the water evaporates.
8. Know the signs of heatstroke. Despite your best efforts, your dog may start to develop heatstroke. (This happened to my cocker spaniel one summer during an evening walk, and because I knew the signs of heatstroke, I was able to treat her and get her cooled back down to a safe level.)
• Heavy panting (early stages)
• Rapid breathing (early stages)
• Excessive drooling (early stages)
• Bright red gums and tongue (early stages)
• Dazed look (early stages)
• Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance (advanced stages)
• White or blue gums (advanced stages)
• Lethargy, unwillingness to move (advanced stages)
• Labored, noisy breathing (advanced stages)
• Vomiting (advanced stages)
If your dog develops heatstroke, here’s what you can do:
• Spray with cool water
• Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water
• Give him or her Pedialyte to restore electrolytes
• Be sure to check your dog's temperature regularly. Once the dog’s temperature is stabilized at 100-102 degrees, he or she is safe. If you cannot get the dog cooled down and you begin to see signs of advanced heatstroke, take the dog to the veterinarian immediately.
Here’s to a safe and healthy summer for you and your four-legged friend.
Laura MacPherson is mom to three rescue dogs, named Katie, Wookiee, and Autumn. She volunteers at the Greenville Humane Society and is interested in dog rescue and rehabilitation.