The majority of North America sees its hottest temperatures in July, according to the Global Historical Climatology Network. Average overall temperatures across the globe are rising each year. This heat affects our pets as much as it does us. We must take extra care to ensure our dogs’ safety and comfort, especially during the hot summer months.
An overheated dog can easily suffer from deadly heatstroke. It can happen quickly and requires immediate medical attention. If you notice signs of heatstroke, contact a veterinarian right away.
The absolute must-have for dogs in any season, especially summer, is free and constant access to clean water. It’s as vital to them as it is to us. To keep your dog happy and hydrated, make sure they have clean water at all times in a bowl they cannot tip over and spill.
Dehydration and loss of electrolytes can lead to organ failure and death. Signs of dehydration are dry and sticky gums, poor skin elasticity, sunken eyes, panting, dry nose, thick saliva, loss of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting. If your dog shows symptoms of dehydration, get them to drink some water and contact your veterinarian immediately. It’s a medical emergency that may require IV fluid administration.
If your dog loves water, consider providing a shallow, hard plastic swimming pool in which they can lounge and play.
When we’ve had too much sun, we retreat indoors or find shade. Dogs also need a place in the shade under which they have respite from the sun. Although it shields from the sun, shade does not provide relief from hot temperatures and may not suffice in extreme heat. During these times, bring your dog inside with air conditioning.
Exposure to sun can also cause sunburn. Seared skin pains dogs and increases the risk of cancer. Look for redness on exposed areas, such as the stomach, nose, and bald patches. Treat with aloe for comfort and healing (don’t let them eat it). In cases of severe burns, seek help from a veterinarian. Prevent sunburns on sensitive areas with sunscreen made specifically for dogs.
Exercise and Walks
During hot months, exercise and walk your dog in early morning or evening hours when it’s cool. If you have an energetic dog, check on them periodically throughout the day. Dogs excited to play, run, and walk may not show signs of overheating until it’s too late. Many will play until they drop.
Beware of hot sidewalks, asphalt, sand, and wooden walkways. They can cause severe burns to paws. Before walking, test the temperature with your hand. If you can’t leave your hand on the surface for several seconds without discomfort, don’t walk your dog on it. Walk in grass if possible, protect your dog’s feet with booties, or walk during a cooler time.
Whatever the season, it’s never a good idea to leave a pet unaccompanied inside a vehicle. Even when temperatures outside are mild, they can rise to dangerous levels inside vehicles. A vehicle can go from 70 degrees to 95 degrees in just 10 minutes1. Cracked windows do not work to protect dogs from rising temperatures. Every year, many dogs die in hot cars. These deaths are 100% preventable.
Before taking your dog out, check with businesses, and learn their policies about bringing in pets. If businesses aren’t dog-friendly, leave your dog at home. Hire a sitter. Leave your dog with family or friends. Don’t leave your dog alone in the car.
With few exceptions, shaving your dog in summer is not necessary and may be more harmful than beneficial. A dog’s coat protects them from cold in winter and heat in summer. Shaving can also make dogs susceptible to sunburn. If you think your dog can benefit from less hair, take them to a groomer for a trim or ask your veterinarian if a shave is right for your dog.
Regular brushing can help your dog keep cool. Brushing keeps mats in check and excessive fur off your dog’s body.
Rising temperatures can be dangerous to dogs. Make summer fun and comfortable by keeping them safe, hydrated, and cool. Even with protective measures, pay extra attention to dogs during hot days, and watch for symptoms of overheating.
- Weather.gov. 2020. Heat, Autos, And Safety. [online] Available at: https://www.weather.gov/lsx/excessiveheat-automobiles [Accessed 4 June 2020].