The steps you take to protect your dog from summer heat can be life-saving. Being prepared and alert to the dangers of heatstroke can keep summer fun with your dog safe.
1:Know the signs of heatstroke and be prepared to take action when they occur.
Minutes matter when a dog starts to get overheated. Common symptoms are heavy panting, a brick red colored tongue, staring, ignoring commands or calls, a rapid heartbeat, vomiting or collapse. You need to act fast to cool your dog down: get them out of the sun; lay them on a wet towel and get them to a vet quickly. Heatstroke can cause a dog’s organs to fail.
Dogs that have the highest risk of suffering heatstorke are puppies (younger than six months), senior dogs, overweight dogs, dogs that have short muzzles likes pugs, bull dogs or Boston terriers or dogs that are sick, on medications or have heart or circulation problems.
2: Never ever leave your dog in a car on a hot day.
In Los Angeles, we have sunshine like the Arctic has polar bears. The day may feel cool when you and Fido jump into the car, temperatures inside that car can soar to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in 30 minutes — even when you have the windows cracked. You may be dashing into the store for the quickest of errands. But why put your best friend at risk of a horrible death? Leave Fido at home if there’s even a whisper of a chance you’re going to have to leave him in the heat.
3: Walk early in the day or after sundown.
This slight adjustment in your schedule can make an enormous difference to your dog’s safety and comfort.
4: If your dog stays outside, be sure she has some shelter from sun and heat.
Rethink the doghouse or plastic igloo. They don’t allow air to circulate and cool Fido down. Instead thinking about open-sided shady shelters. shade trees or shrubs that can keep your dog out of direct sunlight. In dry climates like we have here in L.A., having a fountain or small children’s wading pool nearby will cool the air a little.
5: Don’t walk your dog on hot pavement or asphalt.
Take your dog to a park or walk him on grassy parkways instead of the sidewalk. Dog expert Cesar Millan suggests putting boots on your dog. Not all dogs tolerate this. Musher’s Secret, developed for sled dogs in Canada, claims to also help protect a dog’s paws from sand and hot asphalt while still allowing them to breathe. The product’s makers say it won’t stain carpets, is non-toxic, doesn’t spoil and is easy to use. We have to confess we haven’t tried it yet.
6: Be extra careful if your dog has a black coat.
Black fur absorbs the heat faster than lighter fur. I you have a black dog, you need to be extra watchful about heatstroke and take precautions to keep your dog cool.
7: Fill your dog’s water bowl often. When walking, bring a bowl and water with you.
Dogs don’t sweat to cool down, they pant. Panting causes a lot of water evaporation. That’s part of what helps cool the dog. Getting dehydrated can make a dog overheat even faster. A few ice cubes in the water will help bring down your dog’s temperature.
One of our favorites for walking, hiking or being out and about is a collapsible water bowl by Dexas. It comes with a carabiner so it can clip on to a belt loop or leash for easy access. It collapses flat when not in use, but has a nice capacity when it’s expanded.
8: Brush excess fur out of coats.
Brushing your dog gets rid of the extra fur being shed. It will make your dog’s coat lighter and help keep them cool. Some people shave their dogs during the summer. A shedding blade is a great tool for this. It’s a big loop with a handle that snags loose fur. It’s easy to clean the fur from the blade. We actually prefer it to more expensive tools like the Furminator.
Consult your vet or a qualified groomer before doing this. Some dogs have double coats that help insulate them from the heat.
9: Get your dog some cooling gear.
You can buy sophisticated gear to cool off your dog, but even a wet towel to lie on works well. There are a number of cooling pads, vests or collars that help bring down a dog’s body temperature when it’s hot. We just learned about the Kumfy Tailz Harness from the Florida-based blog, Oz the Terrier.
The harness holds a gel pack like the ones humans use to ice down a sore joint. The gel pack slides into the harness so it’s against the dogs chest and heart, keeping their organs and blood circulation cooler.
10: Take it slow and easy.
On a hot sunny day, sauntering will be better for your dog than sprinting. The exercise alone will raise your dog’s heart rate and warm up his muscles. If it’s also hot, your dog may not be able to cool off fast enough by panting alone. So slow down. Kick back and be cool.