Although dogs do have sweat glands on their nose and pads of their paws, they don’t sweat much. So unlike us they can become overheated easily. Overweight dogs, dogs with thick or dark coats, puppies, elderly dogs, short-nosed dogs, and dogs with health problems are even more susceptible.
Read on for the top ways to help your dog beat the summer heat.
Dog Boots – This may seem counter-intuitive. Aren’t boots for winter? Yes, and summer too. Dogs absorb heat through their feet, and on hot days the heat of asphalt or concrete can be scorching. Dogs’ paws can get burned on sidewalks, asphalt and even hot sand. Boots protect their paws, helping them to stay cool.
Kiddie Pool – Most dogs love the water. A kiddie pool (the hard plastic kind, not the inflatable kind) is great fun for dogs. Throw in a few toys that float, and some ice cubes to keep things interesting – and cool. Invite a few dog friends over and have a doggie pool party! Or set up the sprinkler for a great cool way to play. Always supervise your dog in a pool, no matter how shallow.
Outdoors – All dogs need exercise, but on hot days, it’s best to limit walks to necessary pit stops. Walk early and late, and avoid the worst of the heat during mid-day. Bring an insulated water bottle with you on walks to make sure your dog has plenty of cool water to drink. Limit play time to water-based activities, and keep your dog in the shade to avoid overheating.
Frozen Treats – Dogs love treats, and frozen treats can help to keep them cool. Stuff a Kong with goodies like bananas and peanut butter and freeze several so you always have them on hand. For a longer-lasting, less caloric treat, make an ice lick for your dog by freezing chew toys inside a bucket filled with water.
Water – Dogs drink water to cool down, so make sure that your dog has plenty of fresh, cool water inside and out in non-tip bowls to stay hydrated. If your dog has been outside and feels hot to the touch, wet your dog down with a hose or watering can. Start with the head, paws, groin and legs, then place cool, wet towels on his/her belly, and neck.
Digging – If you – and your yard – can tolerate it, let your dog dig outside. Dogs often dig holes to lie in, which helps them to stay cool. If you’re OK with it, let your dig away in a shady spot. Just be sure to limit their time outside.
Riding – It goes without saying that you should never leave your dog in a car when it’s hot outside – not even for a moment. Cars act like greenhouses, heating to temperatures much greater than what is outside, and can quickly become death traps. On an 85 degree day, the temperature in a car with the windows cracked can climb to 102 degrees within 10 minutes. Err on the side of safety and leave your dog at home.
Cooling Aids – Cooling vests wrap around your dog’s belly and exchange body heat with the coolness of water. Soak the jacket in water, and the evaporation process cools your dog!
Cooling mats for laying on, and cooling collars that simulate artificial sweat on your dog promoting evaporative cooling, these products do much to help keep your dog cool. Reusable and washable, they last for hours at a time.
Sunburn – Be aware that dogs can get sunburned too. Skip the trip to the beach. The reflection off the sand can heat your dog up quickly and cause burns. And salt water – even a small amount from water-soaked balls – can dehydrate your dog. Protect your dog from sunburn with sunscreen specifically made for dogs. Common spots for burns are the bridge of the nose, tips of the ears, belly, groin, and inside of the legs. Never use human sunscreen on a dog – it can be toxic.
Keep a sharp eye out for signs of heatstroke – it’s a true emergency. Dogs who become overheated for a prolonged period of time can suffer brain and organ damage, heart failure, and even death. Signs include excessive drooling, hard panting, lethargy, staggering, restlessness, dark gums and/or tongue. If you notice any of these signs, get your dog to the vet immediately.
With these precautions, you – and your dog – will be in for a great summer!