By: Ryan Jackson of UnleashMagazine.com and Dove
During the summer months when we are experiencing the hottest days of the year, not only do we need to take appropriate precautions for ourselves, but for our dogs as well. How do we keep our pets safe? It seems like common sense, but it’s striking how many people still don’t understand that extreme heat and over-exposure to the sun can cause skin irritation, brain damage and even death for our pets.
Dogs do absolutely need reasonable sunlight to help balance their calcium levels, but just like with humans, too much sun is never a good thing. It’s best if we stay cool, calm and collected when it comes to our furry best friends, so here are 7 easy tips to help your pup beat the heat!
1. Provide cool and clean water at all times. Your dog will dehydrate quicker in the summer, so keep cold, fresh water in their bowl at all times. Also, put ice cubes in their dish for those extremely hot days. Be prepared when you go to the park for a stroll by carrying a portable water bowl and spray bottle so your dog can stay refreshed.
2. Find areas that have shade. It is very important for your dog to hit the cooler spots so that it doesn’t overheat. Bring your dog inside to luxuriate with you under the air conditioning, or make sure he has a breezy outside shelter from the sun. Over-exposure to heat can cause heat stroke, even when your dog is not in direct sunlight.
Symptoms of heat stroke include heavy, frantic panting, reddened mouth/tongue, thick saliva, unsteady footsteps from dizziness and sometimes vomiting. If your dog displays these symptoms, take immediate action to cool them under an air conditioner or in cool water, and consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible!
3. Change your activity schedule. Try to change up your dog’s daily runs to earlier in the morning or later in the evening when it’s a little cooler outside. This way you and your dog can enjoy a jog or walk together. While activity is important, do keep your playtime to a minimum so your dog does not overheat. Try getting him/her a fun water squirt ball or turn on the sprinkler!
4. Get a trim! Imagine if you had to wear a fur coat all day in a heat wave! Do take time to consult with your vet and/or local professional groomer for the best options for your dog, as some breeds with natural undercoats do better with fur to help their cooling systems. There are “cooling coats” and bandanas available on the market for outings, but again, consult with a professional before use.
For many breeds, especially the little guys, a good clip will help dissipate some of the heat the body absorbs and keep them looking chic!
5. Don’t leave your dog in the car! Your dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If their temperature rises above 105 degrees, they become at risk for developing heat exhaustion. Even with the windows down, temperatures inside a car can quickly rise above 120 degrees in a matter of minutes!
This seems like something we learned in grade school, yet there are morons still killing their pets in hot cars! Check out this story on a poor little Maltese who perished while his owner enjoyed the pool, and this Labrador Retriever who died while his owner shopped at Costco, and the Pitbull who died while the owner hit up Walmart. Not to mention the police dog who died right in front of the handler’s home, because the idiot was distracted by a “personal matter.” And those are just a few poor pups who perished in the past two weeks alone. Tragic!
6. Do not muzzle! Muzzle’s restrict airflow, and oftentimes, a dog’s ability to pant. Dogs can’t sweat through their skin. Instead, they sweat through their snouts and footpads, and they rely on panting to cool themselves. If you must muzzle your dog, do so in short increments of time only! Click here for a helpful article on proper muzzle use.
7. Use sunscreen! Yes, even the bald spots most dogs have around the eyes, ears, feet or tail can get sunburned. Dogs with shorter and/or lighter color hair are prone to sunburn all over. Most veterinarians carry medical sunblock just for dogs to keep them from getting too toasty in the sun.
If your dog is the victim of a sunburn, you can cool off the affected areas with a cool washcloth or compress, and even give them a cool bath without shampoo. Then contact your vet right away for more instructions!
For more great tips, interviews and dog-friendly features, go to UnleashMagazine.com!