The dog days of summer are here: How to keep your dog safe in the heat

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The dog days of summer are here and that means warmer weather for those of us north of the equator. When temperatures soar outside, it’s a good reminder for dog owners to take precautions to keep their dogs cool. That’s because beating the heat is extra tough for dogs as they can only cool themselves by panting. 

Here’s how to keep your dog safe from the heat during the dog days of summer: 

Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car

This time of year, dashing into a store for a quick errand while your dog waits in the car is not an option. The time it takes for your pup to overheat is faster than you might think, even with the windows cracked.

According to PETA, dogs can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. A general rule of thumb is that the temperature in a parked car jumps 20 degrees in 10 minutes. So on a 75-degree day, expect your car temperature to reach 95 degrees when you return to it 10 minutes later, and much hotter than that at 30 minutes. 

Even if it doesn’t feel that hot outside, keep your dog safe by leaving him at home when you do errands, or go places where he can come with you.  

Check the pavement

Before you head out for a walk, touch the pavement for 5 seconds with the palm of your hand. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paw pads. During the summer, take walks in the coolest part of the day, and carry water for your dog. If you have to be outside in the middle of the day, walk on grass or try booties for your dog so her paws don’t burn. 

When outside, provide water and shade

Dog gets drink of water

When it’s hot, avoid leaving your dog outside for long periods of time. But when he is outdoors, make sure he has plenty of shade and fresh, cool water. You can even add ice cubes to his water bowl, or provide a small “kiddie” pool or sprinkler for him to cool off in the yard. 

Provide exercise in smaller doses

Dogs still need to get out and exercise in the summer. If you head out with your pup during the heat of the day, time your outings so they are shorter in duration. Have a dog that loves to fetch? You can still play ball, but in MUCH smaller doses. Think two to three throws per session. 

Offer a cool treat

Dog takes bath in heat

Help your dog chill from the inside out. Make a tasty treat by placing an all-natural Crunch Puff in an ice cube tray, then fill with unflavored greek yogurt and some pureed cucumbers and freeze. You could also use this recipe to fill and freeze a favorite hollow-center toy for a cool, mentally stimulating snack.

Know which dogs need extra care

Owners of brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, shih tzus and bulldogs, should be even more vigilant to prevent overheating, a recent study revealed. Short-snouted pups have smaller airways making it harder to release heat when they pant compared to their longer-snouted brethren. According to researchers, old and overweight dogs are also a greater risk for heatstroke so take extra care to keep them cool. 

Before you cut, ask

Shaving your dog’s long coat during the summer may sound like a good way to beat the heat. But it’s best to talk to your vet or groomer first. That extra fur can actually keep him cool in the summer, especially if you have a double-coated breed, such as an Australian Shepherd or Husky. Their fur also aids in preventing the skin from sun exposure.

Signs your dog is overheating 

Dog drinks water in heat

If your dog suffers from heat stroke or even severe heat exhaustion, she will require veterinary care. Since our dogs can't directly tell us when they don't feel well, it’s important that we keep an eye on them and watch for any of these symptoms:

  • Heavy panting
  • Heavy drooling
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dark or red gums and tongue
  • Dizziness/Wobbling
  • Weakness
  • Agitation

If you think your dog is showing signs of overheating--don’t wait, move her to a shady or air-conditioned environment and offer small amounts of cool water. Do not force drinking, and do not use ice water or an ice bath to cool an overheated dog as it can trigger blood vessel restriction. Dogs suffering from heat stroke (and many suffering from heat exhaustion) will need to be evaluated by a veterinarian once your initial cooling measures have been completed.

Stay cool, stay safe

Hot dog with fan

Here’s the thing: Heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs are entirely preventable conditions. A little precaution and planning can help you keep your dog comfortable and safe from the heat all summer long. Now get outside and have fun with your dog!

The points of view expressed above are those of our clinical nutritionist and supported by science, her education and experience. However, we recognize there may be different points of view or opinions on some aspect or even the premise of this article. Our goal at Bow Wow Labs is to provide the best, clearest, and most helpful information possible to help keep your dog happy, healthy and safe.

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