Summertime means sunshine, heat, and lots of being outside. That’s true for us and our pets, right? I don’t know about you, but when I head outside my dogs like to be following closely behind and I want them to. I want them outside enjoying the beautiful weather and getting exercise. Summertime is a wonderful time to bond with your dog, but summertime is also the time that many pet injuries and illness happens. So, caring for your dog in the summer heat is important.
We tend to forget that in the winter, just like us, your pups probably aren’t getting a lot of exercise. So, even though the weather is getting nicer and they probably want to run and play, it’s important to ease them back into it.
And don’t forget that while your dog may be outside having a wonderful time, they also don’t sweat the same way that us humans do. This means that they can easily become overheated, which can lead to heat stroke or worse. Here are some tips for caring for your dog in the summer heat that will keep your canine kid healthy and happy!
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Tips for Caring for Your Dog in the Summer Heat
Always have water available
Dehydration, unfortunately, is very common for dogs in the summertime. Because they don’t sweat like we do, dogs need more water than we do when they get hot. Make sure to have water readily available wherever you are spending time outdoors, while also having their water available in its regular place in your home.
But be careful. Dylan loves playing in the water sprinkler but last summer ending up getting heat stroke. I thought it was safe because he was getting wet so couldn’t possibly overheat. It was a very hot day and he was a little overzealous. He ended up falling down then throwing up and having diarrhea. We then went through several weeks of gastrointestinal issues and even a case of hot spots requiring medication. It was a nightmare. So just be safe.
Play where there is shade
If you are going to be playing outside in the heat, make sure that there is shade available. While your dog probably likes to sunbathe in the direct sunlight, they still need to be brought to the shade often to prevent overheating.
Recognize the signs of dehydration and overheating
The normal body temperature for a dog is 101–102.5°F and if they get any higher than that, it could be dangerous. These are the signs of dehydration and overheating that you should be on the lookout for during the heat.
- Thick drool
- Dry or bright-red gums
- Labored panting
- Shaking or weakness
- Trouble walking
- Stomach distress (diarrhea and/or vomiting)
If your dog is showing any of these signs, bring them inside or to the shade and give them water. Your dog needs to cool down. A wet, cool (not freezing) cloth can be placed on their body to help bring down their body temp. over the back of their neck, paws, armpits, groin, and ears. You can also dilute some peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil (coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc) and rub along their spine or chest (This gives a cooling sensation and helped Dylan). Overheating, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke may all warrant a trip to the veterinarian.
Practice walking safety
When you head out on your walks during the summer heat, make sure to do it in the safest way possible. Here are some of the best tips to keep your pup safe from dangers while walking in the heat.
- Walk during the cooler hours of the day. Never take your dog walking during the midday heat. Head out on your walk in the early morning or late evening.
- Take breaks often.
- Bring water along with you. They now make collapsible dishes for dog water. Be sure to bring that along with you as well as a water bottle to help your pup not get overheated.
- You should test the ground before taking a walk with your dog—if the back of your hand feels uncomfortable resting on the ground for 5 seconds, it’s too hot.
- Stay off of the cement. If you are walking when it is sunny out at all, be sure to allow your dog to walk in the grass and not the sidewalk. They aren’t wearing shoes like you are. Hot cement can burn your dog’s paws and can also increase their body temperature.
Don’t give your dog a haircut
Many people like to shave their dog to help them deal with the summer heat and while their heart is certainly in the right place, this is unnecessary. Your dog’s coat is the way it is for a reason. The fur is designed to help them stay cool in the summer, and it helps to prevent sunburns on their skin. Of course, giving them a trim, or their typical grooming is fine, just don’t shave them fur off.
Leave your dog at home when running errands
If you are running errands that require you to leave your car—leave the dog at home. Yes, I know that dogs love riding in cars, but this practice is far too dangerous. Vehicles can quickly become too hot especially sitting in the summer heat. This can kill your dog if they are stuck inside. Even if you think your errand will take just a few minutes, it’s better safe than sorry. It can take less than 10 minutes for pets to develop heat stroke when stuck in a hot car.
If that isn’t enough to scare you off of this practice, many states have also passed laws against leaving pets in cars. You can be ticketed, or even arrested, if you are found to have left your pet in the car. Additionally, many people have had the windows broken out of their vehicle because concerned citizens were worried about the dogs that they see stuck inside.
Pickup trucks aren’t immune to this either. Be sure and keep your dog out of the back of a pickup during the summer heat as the metal of the truck bed can burn their paws.
While we certainly talked about a lot of scary stuff here, summertime is a wonderful time to spend quality time with your pet. Have fun, enjoy the sun and stay safe!