As temperatures are rising and days below 80 degrees are getting farther and fewer between, we wanted to touch on some safety tips for those hot days with your favorite pooch.
First and foremost, leave your fur baby at home if you plan to run errands that will not allow you to take your pup inside with you. The inside of your car can reach upwards of 20 degrees higher than the temperature outside in just a few minutes. Cracked windows and shade from trees DO NOT provide enough relief. Your beloved dog is at high risk of suffering a fatal heat stroke when being left in the vehicle for even the smallest amount of time.
Extra hydration is always a “must” in the summer months. Keep that water dish full! And if you are taking your best fur buddy on an outdoor adventure, be sure to bring water and a portable container with you. Don’t rely on lake or river water – these contain bacteria and other contaminates that can be harmful to your pet.
It makes sense to think that buzzing off thick coats in the summer would be a relief from the heat – not necessarily the case – a short trim is fine, but if you shave your pooch, you leave them susceptible to sunburn and/or bug bites. Good and frequent brushing can help get rid of excess fur and make them more comfortable.
Walks and exercise are important! Try to schedule your walks at cooler times of day, early in the mornings or later on in the evenings when temps are a little cooler. Also, be aware of the hot concrete! Lingering on hot pavement or asphalt can burn the pads on your baby’s paws.
Summertime can be full of events and holidays that promote fireworks. Some dogs are fine and can deal with the loud noises and bright lights – other dogs get scared, leaving them feeling lost and disoriented. You may want to find an escape-proof room in your home for your dog during fireworks displays. Outside, make sure your fence is secure, maybe keep them on a leash if you have to let them out to go to the bathroom during fireworks displays.
It is important as pet owners, that we know the danger signs of heatstroke:
Heavy Panting Dizziness
Glazed Eyes Lack of Coordination
Rapid Heartbeat Profuse Salivation
Difficulty Breathing Vomiting
Excessive Thirst Deep Red or Purple Tongue
Lethargy Sticky or Dry Tongue
Fever Unwilling or Unable to get up
If you see these signs, cool your dog down immediately. Bring them indoors, get some ice packs, or wet towels with cold water and cover your dog with them. Get a fan going to increase the airflow in the room. If you are able, place them in some shallow, cool water in the bathtub. You can give them water to drink, but keep an eye on them as they drink. Dogs instinctively try to get as much water as they can when they’re hot, but too much can be an issue if they start to choke.
For Brachycephalic (short nose) dog breeds, the summer heat can be even more dangerous. Due to their facial structure, brachycephalic dog breeds do no breathe and pant efficiently. Since panting is the primary way dogs cool themselves down, the summertime can be very uncomfortable and place them at an extreme risk for developing heatstroke or heat exhaustion – both conditions that can result in death. If symptoms are worrisome, call your vet for professional advice on whether there may be a need for your dog to be seen in the office.
Brachycephalic breeds include:
Pugs Bulldogs (various breeds)
Shih Tzus Pekinese
Boston Terriers Boxers
Cane Corso Chow
King Charles Spaniel Mastiff
For these breeds, water is essential. Also, being overweight can exacerbate the problem. The harder it is for them to move around, the harder it will be for them to breathe. Also, use a harness when walking versus a collar – a collar can pull up on the throat. Since the trachea is smaller on these dogs, any lessening of the airway can cause major problems. Under no circumstances should you use a choke chain for a brachycephalic dog.
A noticeable rise in the volume of their breathing, excessive panting or panting that sounds labored, difficulty walking are all signs the heat has gotten to be too much for them to handle. Again, call your vet with symptoms for professional advice on whether there may be a need for your dog to be seen in the office.