June 10, 2014
Summer is sneaking up! As we head out to the beer gardens, street fests, and drive into construction traffic, many of us will have our pups in tow. Here are a few of my favorite tips for keeping your dog safe in hot weather.
Heat exhaustion is no joke. Just as with humans, it can range from mild to serious. The trick is to avoid it and, if you notice the symptoms already present, stop its progression immediately. Dogs have much higher body temperatures, so remember that the change from “I’m hot” to “danger” can happen quickly.
What to Watch For
When a dog is struggling with heat you’ll notice restlessness, panting, and an increase in respiration, heart rate, and salivation. As the situation worsens you may see vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, staggering, gasping, gum color change to bright red or purple or blue, and disorientation.
If you catch any early symptoms, just give ‘em a break, some shade, water, and some cool wet towels. If you notice any of the latter symptoms, give the vet a ring. Keep in mind that puppies, older dogs, and brachycephalic dogs (or as I like to call them “smush faces”) are at a higher risk.
Drink Up, Pup
Keeping your dog hydrated is uber important in the summer. No portable dog dish handy? An unused poop baggie works! For slow strolls, doing this once or twice will be enough. If you’re out for a longer play session, repeat often. Heading out where fountains are scarce, think ahead and make plans to bring water. I keep an old gallon milk container in the car and refill it on the go.
Lots of dogs LOVE lying in the sun and there’s nothing wrong with that. But a dog can’t tell us when he’s had enough, so make sure you provide the option of shade. I’ve used umbrellas for smaller dogs, and sheets and clotheslines for larger dogs when there wasn’t a natural option.
To cut the coat or not, that is the question? Many people opt for a shave down in the summer to help keep dogs cool. There is nothing wrong with that, and I’m sure our husky, shepherd, shaggy pups are appreciative. Soaking your dog’s coat with cool water, prior to a walk or exercise, can be a fun alternative. I can’t tell you how many of my dogs go gaga at the sight of the hose. In this heat, they usually dry by the time we get home! For the thinner or shorter haired pups use sunscreen, their skin can be sensitive and burn just as ours.
Quick Wrap Up: Rachel’s Rules
No leaving dogs in the car
Always have water available
Exercise your dog in the morning and night
Take care of that coat
Well, that’s all on the summer safety front. Now that a Rover-Timer armed you with the know-how, get out and enjoy yourselves!