Hot Dogs: Keeping Cool in the Heat
Ahhhh, summer. Long days, warm nights and beautiful weather made for adventures with your pup. Sounds lovely…unless your wearing a fur coat that you can’t take off, in which case summer can seem like a muggy mess. So what do you do to keep your best fur friend cool in the summer heat?
First off, let me start by stating the obvious: under no circumstances, and I mean absolutely none, should you leave your dog in the car. Hundreds of dogs are killed or suffer serious injury from being left in cars during the summer months. It takes as little as 15 minutes for a dog to suffer brain damage, organ failure, and even death, and leaving the car in the shade with the window cracked does not help. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself, and see how long you can last. Final word: if you can’t take them with you, leave your dog at home.
Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk having fun and staying safe. Unlike people, dogs can only cool themselves by panting, with some sweating from the pads of their paws. When out enjoying the warm weather and sunshine, you need to make sure they have access to fresh & clean water, and take breaks to let them cool down. You should avoid having them in direct sunlight for long periods, especially dogs with darker coats, as they overheat faster. Dogs of any colour can also develop sunburns on any exposed skin, or where their fur is thinner, so frequent breaks in the shade & some doggy sunscreen are always a good idea!
There are several products on the market that can help keep your dog cool on hot days, such as cooling collars, vets, blankets and mats, but your don’t have to spend a ton of money to keep your dog comfy. Adding a couple of ice cubes to their water bowl can help, but we can do better than that! Kongs are an invaluable tool in any pet parent’s arsenal of toys. Freezing Kongs with peanut butter or dog-friendly yogurt can be a great way to help cool them down. You can also make pupsicles, or large blocks of ice with treats and toys frozen inside. If your dog likes carrots, try freezing them whole as a way to beat some boredom, cool down, and get some veggies in at the same time. Fun fact, all of these are great ways to help save your furniture from a teething puppy.
It’s important to remember that when the air temperature rises, so does the temperature of the pavement. Dogs can develop serious burns when walking on hot pavement in the summer months, even if that pavement is in full shade. Vets recommend the Five Second Test: if you can’t hold your hand on the pavement for at least five seconds, it is too hot for your dog. When in doubt, there are warm weather booties available that can help keep your pup’s paws safe from the concrete.
Lastly, it is critical to be able to identify the symptoms of heat stroke, hyperthermia and dehydration in your dog. If you can recognize the symptoms, you can catch it earlier and avoid disaster. Your vet will be more than happy to educate you on warning signs, and what to do if you suspect your dog may be suffering from the heat.
Summer is the best time of year to be a dog parent, or a dog for that matter. By taking a few precautions, and using some “common sense”, both you and your dog can enjoy the summer safely and comfortably, without breaking a sweat.