Warm weather is a wonderful time to enjoy time outdoors with our canine companions. With a little planning and precaution, we can make a walk in the park, trip to the beach, or a camping excursion safe and enjoyable for our pets when the temperatures soar. Check out these “cool” tips to keep your dog safe, happy, and hydrated this summer.
Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe In Summer Heat
Take short trips first. Planning a road trip this summer with the family pet? If your dog or cat only rides in the car for trips to the vet, prepare your pet in advance for an enjoyable vacation by taking short, fun excursions to a nearby park or lake.
Pack the right stuff. When taking your dog on vacation pack these doggy supplies to make it a success: a collapsible water bowl (see ours, below!), jug of water, portable doggy bedroll that rolls up tight for transporting, a neon leash and collar, life jacket if your trip includes swimming, dog toys, treats, and dog food.
Certain breeds have a more difficult time in the heat. Dogs with flat faces and short noses (brachycephalic breeds, such as the pug, bulldog, and Pekinese) are more prone than others to breathing problems, which are made worse in the summer heat. These dogs are also susceptible to overheating, so it’s best to keep them out of hot or humid weather conditions.
Never leave your pet inside a parked car. It only takes 10 minutes when it’s 85° F for the temperature to reach 102° F inside the car. In 20 minutes, it can reach 120° F. Lowering a car window partially does not reduce the temperature inside. In this scenario, pets can suffer fatal heatstroke in a matter of minutes. Keep pets at home when shopping or running errands on hot summer days.
Pets, like people, need to acclimate to a change of climate. If you will be vacationing or moving to a more humid, drier or tropical location this summer, initially limit time spent outdoors. Exercise or walk your pet in the coolest hours of the day –early morning and evening — to allow everyone time to adjust to the new environment and weather conditions.
Keep in mind that not all dogs know how to swim. Practice the buddy system in the water with your pets by always accompanying them when wading or swimming. Even if your dog loves to swim, put a brightly-colored life preserver on him when in the water, boat or canoe. When wading in the ocean, or any moving creek or river, attach a rope to the life jacket to keep your dog safe and within reach.
Never walk your pet on hot pavement. Besides blistering his paws, the heat rising from hot asphalt or concrete can especially cause small animals to easily overheat. In hot weather exercise your dog on the grass or in shaded areas. When in urban areas, where hot pavement cannot be avoided, put canine boots on your dog to protect his paws. Is it Too Hot For Spot?The rule of thumb is if you cannot keep your hand on the hot pavement for 5 seconds, your pet’s feet can’t handle it either.
Long-haired pets should be brushed and bathed regularly to remove hair as it sheds and to help keep him cool and comfortable.
Rinse or bathe your dog after swimming in saltwater or in a chlorinated swimming pool to avoid possible skin irritation.
Think before you clip. Fur not only helps keep pets warm in winter but also provides protection against the heat, excessive sun exposure, and sunburn. If your dog will be enjoying time outdoors this summer, consider trimming instead of shaving to prevent sunburn. Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker makes this recommendation on her HealthyPets website, “While I typically do not recommend shaving your pet, if yours has a long coat, spends time outdoors during hot weather, and doesn’t object to a shorter coat, consider giving her a summer cut. Just take care not to go any shorter than an inch, because her coat provides protection from sunburn.”
Provide a shady spot or a shelter for your outdoor pets, ideally, one that blocks direct sunshine, yet allows some airflow to circulate. Dogs like to lie in the dirt when it’s hot out. Under that huge shade tree construct a small raised bed and fill it with garden soil. Set up a canopy or pup (dog) tent when going camping or swimming. Don’t want to invest in a pup tent? Tie two ropes or a clothes line around the arms of two folding chairs spaced several feet apart. Drape a huge beach towel, bed sheet or tarp over the ropes to form a temporary shelter for your dog.
Pets need a source of fresh drinking water on hand throughout the day. Select a water bowl that cannot be easily overturned for outdoor pets. Larger dogs can drink water from a cooler or trough. Remove the lid to prevent it from shutting. And change the water daily. Freeze water in an empty ice cream bucket and add the block of ice to the water container to keep it refreshing during the day.
Provide fun, wet ways for your dog to cool off outdoors in hot weather. Employ a water sprinkler, slip-and-slide, or a kiddy pool partially filled with water, for dogs to splash, soak and enjoy. Standing in water helps reduce your pet’s internal temperature. Provide a wet towel for your dog to lie on when resting outside during hot weather.
Give frozen treats. Give your pup frozen blueberries or peas as a treat to help her cool off on a hot summer day. You can also freeze beef or chicken broth in ice pop molds for a safe broth-sicle snack your dog will love. Straight ice cubes can be too hard on your pet’s teeth.
Chill! When keeping your dog indoors during hot weather, she will appreciate resting in a room with cool tile floors, under a ceiling fan, and away from sunny windows. If you keep your dog in a pen, place a frozen water bottle inside for her to lean against.
Share with us any summer pet tips you’ve got!
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.