As summertime is here it’s important to keep yourself and your dog well hydrated and cool. Dogs are particularly susceptible to heatstroke – a potentially life-threatening condition. Here are some helpful tips to make your dog’s summer cooler, more enjoyable and healthy.
- Never leave your dog in a hot car even for a few minutes. If the temperature outside is a balmy 75, the temperature inside the car is 118! Even when the windows are cracked, your car quickly becomes like an oven.
- If you and your dog are outside, please make sure to provide some shade. Trees are better than doghouses for shade because they let air flow through.
- Because we wear shoes, we do not notice how hot asphalt or even concrete can get. Protect your pooch’s paw pads by walking on dirt or grass, or sticking to early morning or late evening walks. Even if your dog is in great shape, they can’t cool themselves as well as we can. In order to cool down, a dog relies on the sweat glands in his paw pads.
- Leave a large bowl of water outside, preferably one that is not metal as it may become warm quickly. If you’re both going out to run errands, bring some fresh water for your dog as well.
- Consider a cooling vest. If it’s really warm, a cooling vest with cold packs built into the sides will make sure your dog stays comfortable and cool even on a long hike.
- Never use ice to cool your dog down as it may lower their temperature too quickly and constrict blood flow, which will actually inhibit the body from cooling. Instead, let them cool off in a pool or soak their feet in cool (but not icy) water.
- Consider a haircut that will give your dog a cool summer look. Depending on the breed, a dog’s long coat may actually keep him warmer in the winter and provide insulation in the summer. Additionally, a dog’s long coat may keep him from getting sunburn and help protect from skin cancer. A “trim” may be appropriate but it is best not to cut a dog’s hair down to the skin or try to cut the dog’s hair with scissors.
- If your dog is alone during the day, leave the air conditioner on or keep a fan going.
- Take extra care of flat-faced dogs. Breeds such as Pugs and Boxers have more difficulty cooling their bodies due to their short snouts.
- Although ice cream is not good for dogs, consider pupsicles.
- Make sure your dog’s shots are up-to-date especially in the summer when the parvo-virus can be prominent.
Beware Of The Signs Of Heatstroke
- Excessive panting and salivation
- Trouble breathing
- Bloody diarrhea
- Very dark urine concentrated in color
- Dry chapped nose
- Dark or bright red tongues and gums
If You Think Your Dog Has Heatstroke:
- Immediately call your veterinarian.
- Move your dog to a cooler area.
- Avoid sudden cooling (like putting your dog in an ice bath).
- Apply isopropyl alcohol 70% to their foot pads, place a cool damp towel on their back, and allow them to drink small amounts of water.
A fun activity for you and your dog to beat the summer heat is swimming. If a swimming pool is not nearby, even a kiddie pool will help cool your dog down. Be aware that it is important that you properly introduce your dog to a pool so they know how to get in and out on their own. Also, never just drop your dog into the water as that can traumatize them.
Have a fun and safe summer!
Vicki and Richard Horowitz, of Woodbridge, are dog behavioral therapists and trainers with Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.dog-training-new-haven-ct.com.