Fun in the Sun Has Begun!
Dog’s Can’t Sweat It
Don’t Let Them down by Letting Them Heat Up
12 Tips to Help Dogs Cope with the Heat – plus a bonus tip at the end
1. When It’s Hot Out, Don’t Go Out
Sounds pretty simple and it is. You might need to change your routine from walking the pup after you get home from work to getting up early and doing so. You’ll both benefit in life but in general the morning time is much cooler than the after work hours when the sun has beat the ground, is still high in the sky and now heat radiates from the ground – you get hit with heat from all angles. I’ve also noticed that the bugs tend to be late risers so while you can wait until dusk, you’ll be walking with some unwelcomed pesky friends.
2. Keep off the Hot Surfaces
As with the earlier walk in the cooler mornings, any walk at any time of the day should be on surfaces that have not been baking in the sun. Pavement, even cement can get pretty toasty. If you are uncertain how hot the ground is, place your hand palm down and hold it there for 5 seconds. If you can’t, your pet shouldn’t be walking on it. Stick to grass, mulched areas or shaded paths. Pads can burn quickly and if the ground is that hot, the heat radiating off of it will not help in avoiding heat exhaustion.
3. Fresh Drink of Water
Whether out for a walk or doing some yard work with Baxter by your side – make certain you have fresh water available. I made the mistake of taking my dog for a long walk on a summer vacation on the Jersey coastline and she got so hot we had to stop by a store and ask for a cup of water. Bad call on my part, while I felt hydrated she was not. With their inefficient cooling systems, cold water is a great way to help keep their temperature down.
4. Water, Water Everywhere
If you pooch likes puddles make them for them. Sprinklers, playing in the hose and baby pools can be great resources for cooling and fun. For safety never leave them unattended around any pool and make certain they do not drink chlorinated pool water. If you’re done with the baby pool for the day, dump the water to avoid creating a mosquito breeding pond.
5. Provide Shade
Shady areas especially with good breezes can be great ways to stay cool or a great place to cool down. My dogs love to crawl under our large forsythia bush and dig into the cool dirt to take a nap on a hot day. Dogs may dig in the dirt and roll in it to get cooler, you can save your yard if you provide the coolness for them, otherwise they’ll take matters into their own paws.
6. Adequate Airflow
I previously mentioned in my blog post about dogs in hot cars that even with the windows cracked there is not enough airflow to keep a dog cool, not to mention how fast the car heats up. Since dogs can only pass air over their tongue to cool themselves, more airflow is needed for them than for us, we can also fan ourselves to help the sweat evaporate faster. Yes, they can pant which makes the air pass over kicker but they need lots of fresh air that is not hot to help them cool. Fans are great ideas.
7. Open Windows and Doors Leave You Open for Problems
While flowing air is a must, open doors and windows can leave your pets able to escape. Remember a screen will not hold back a child, a dog or even a cat so an open window even with the screen in, is still just an open window. Cross breezes are fantastic to have but make certain the windows open are not in reach of a curious canine.
8. Check Their Tags
I know, what does an ID tag have to do with heat? Well chances are you will be out and about more with your pup and that increases their chances of getting away. You might bring them over to your friend’s house for a cookout and while the yard is fenced – the gate was left open. Unless your pup knows how to use GPS – getting back home could be quite the conundrum. Up-to-date ID tags with your cell phones are a must-have no matter the season but statistically, you’re more likely to have lost a pet in the summer – especially on the 5th of July which I will discuss in a future post.
9. Leave Them at Home
I know I said that going for a ride is one of those activities that you can do with your dog right now, and please consider it a stimulating activity – however, if its hot, even if you don’t plan to make any stops – please leave them at home. I was just on the highway the other day when it was 94 degrees and I saw a couple with an arctic breed stopped on the side of the road. It appeared their car had broken down. The police and tow truck where there but that dog looked hot. Don’t put your pooch in that situation. Even if your car is sound and you avoid an accident, the temptation to stop and buy something from the farm stand is high and so is the heat. One minute can turn into 10 and that can equal 20 degrees or more increase in temperature inside of the car, where your dog sits waiting and now baking.
10. Know Where the Nearest ER Vet is ALWAYS
Whether its for your own home or if you are traveling to your relatives with Rex in tow, make sure you know where to go if something goes wrong. Thankfully Google is pretty helpful but look this information up before you hit the road incase your cell service isn’t so great. Write it down with an old fashioned pen and paper and stash it in the glove box. Make a printed list if your handwriting is as bad as mine for various places you go, but never leave home without knowing where the closest 24/7 ER veterinary hospital is.
11. Be Able to Recognize When They Are Hot
Panting because they are hot and uncontrollably panting and walking like someone that has just taken 6 shots of whiskey are two different things but they can happen very quickly. A dog’s temperature can rise quickly, even on what seems like a cool day. Stress can cause the body to fail in temperature regulation. We’re here to help you help your pets. Dr. Bobbi Conner, the ER veterinary instructor in our ProPetHero course lets you know exactly what to look for and what to do should you suspect that your pet is hot. When you power up the laptop or tablet to make the list of the closest ER vet hospitals to where you will be staying, have a gander at how to recognize heat stroke and what you can do to help your pup cope.
12. Make Sure Your Pet Sitter Knows
While many of us pet sitters pride ourselves on being professionally prepared in any situation with your pet – don’t assume all know exactly what to do. Arm your sitter with information so they have to think less and can help your pet more. Tell them where the nearest ER vet hospital is, where they can find towels and the hose etc. Over-communicate for their sake and it makes it easier for the pet care professional. Also, make certain they are certified to handle emergencies.
Signs of Heat Related Issues
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are dangerous and super slippery slopes for your pup. Heat exhaustion and stroke symptoms can include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, rapid panting, stumbling while walking, lethargy, thick saliva, reddening of the skin inside the ears and gum color can turn bright red or pale if they are heading into shock.
Handling The Stress of Heat
The goal is to drop their body temperature but SLOWLY! Too quickly and you can cause a great shock to their system. Never use ice but do use cool water. Soak towels in hose water and cover your dog in them paying attention to their neck and groin where the least hair is and the greatest amount of skin exposure.
Hose water is great but remember it might have been sitting in the sun so check the temp before applying to your pup. You can bring them inside a cool building, head to the basement even and get a fan on them. You can provide them with water but if you have the signs above, they wont drink and they don’t seem “with it” – you’re going to the vet.
Any pet that cannot cool himself off is at risk for heat stroke, but some breeds and dogs with certain conditions are more susceptible. Heart disease, obesity, young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with breathing problems are at a at higher risk. For these animals even normal activities in any heat can be harmful. Dogs with short muzzles (called brachiocephalic) – like French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Shih Tzus, Pugs or Bulldogs – have a harder time regulating the body heat since the shorter nose prevents the air from acclimating to their body temperature before passing by the brain. Instead, hot air comes in and without a longer snout to help it adjust to the dog’s body temperature – it stay hot. Arctic breeds or those with double or triple coats are less efficient at cooling as well like Samoyeds, Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs etc. DO NOT shave these types of coats down, the longer guard hairs help air pass down to the skin to keep them cool. If you shave them as is sadly popular, you just knitted your dog a sweater by making the hairs the same length and tight against the body. They may look cooler and stay cleaner but this is not healthy. Keeping them brushed and their undercoat thin is your best protection against the heat.
Play in the Sun
This is not to deter anyone from enjoying the beauty of the summer with their best friend. I just wanted to make you aware of some things you can do to enjoy the time safely so we aren’t cutting their already short lives any shorter.
For those of your with white short-coated dogs or dogs with white markings particularly on their nose and ears, consider a PET SAFE sunscreen. These areas can get sunburned. As an owner of Boxers this is a concern for our white-faced friends. Do not use human sunscreen as it is not balanced for their skin and most importantly – not safe for ingestion by licking.