The dog days of summer bring a unique set of safety issues for pet parents. Worrying about if your pup is cool enough is a constant concern. Today, we’re talking to celebrity pet trainer Harrison Forbes about this serious issue.
Here’s what Harrison has to say about summer heat safety for dogs:
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Hot Weather Safety for Dogs
It’s only the middle of June and it’s hard to believe the heat index here in Tennessee is 109°.
I want to talk today about heat exhaustion and heatstroke in dogs because often times we think of that mainly only in August and September.
However, the first real heat waves each year are many times the most dangerous. For ourselves, that first heat wave when your used to cooler temperatures seems like you’re standing in an oven at 100° and three months from now 100° is still hot, but your body has acclimated.
For our dogs, the same thing occurs. Also, many dogs still have a good portion of their winter coats attached and this is the same as us going out in this first heat wave with a heavy winter coat on! The results can be life-threatening.
First make sure your dog has had a good grooming to pull all or any extra hair/undercoat that has not shed away.
For dogs that will be going outside, it’s critical to have ventilated shade, that means an area that provides a lot of shade where the sun is not heating up the ground or concrete but also allows enough open space for the wind and air to move through. A closed, insulated doghouse that sits out in the middle of the yard in the sun can turn your dog’s environment into an oven.
Dogs also need fresh water that’s not too hot. Many times owners have gotten a large bucket and filled it with water thinking that the volume of water is most important and that water sits in the sun and turns to almost boiling hot water throughout the day. That is dangerous in itself. Cycling or reciprocating fountains that continually keep the water moving and not stagnant and also keeping the water in a shaded area where the sun is not overheating is vital.
If you don’t mind your dog getting wet, sometimes an inexpensive fun play area for your dog is to buy a $10 children’s pool, fill it with water and then each morning dump a large block of ice from a bucket or Tupperware tray. it stays cool all day and keeps the water cool and allows the dog to play and keep moist and hydrated.
One of my favorite “pet life hacks” is to do what I call the poor man’s air conditioner. You take two 2 L plastic bottles, fill with water, put them in the freezer then each morning as you leave to go to work you take one or both of the frozen bottles and put them in the doghouse or in the bedding area where the dog will be laying. It takes all day long for that to melt and the dog can continually lay up against it and it will cool the immediate surrounding area, especially in a shaded doghouse. Then when you arrive home, you simply take the melted bottle and put it back in the freezer overnight.
When you’re walking your dog it’s also very important to not walk them on hot asphalt or hot surfaces. Reach down with the palm of your hand, if it’s too hot for your hand it’s too hot for their paws. Check parking lot asphalt before getting out of the car with your dog and check your driveway at home before calling your dog to get in the car during summer months.
Never leave your dog in the car in the summer alone.
Temperatures inside a parked car can quickly grow dangerous for your dog. Leaving the car running and the air conditioning on poses a risk for your dog as well, as dogs can knock a running car out of park and drive into people, buildings, or traffic.
When you’re away from home, be sure to keep plenty of fresh, cool water on hand and collapsible water bowls to keep your dog hydrated on the go.
Signs of Overheating in Dogs
Signs of overheating can be:
- glazed eyes
- excessive panting
- red burst on belly
- bright red or blue gums
- noisy breathing
In more severe cases you can see small red bursts on the dogs stomach where the capillaries have a ruptured due to the heat exhaustion. It is important if you find your dog in heat exhaustion that you call your veterinarian immediately. Do not put the dog in a bathtub full of ice or ice water. It’s too much of a shock to the system. Laying your dog in a tub and running cool water over them is much preferred as you wait on instructions from your vet.
Also, if possible consider reverse scheduling, where your dog spends its outside time in the evening or overnight hours and then comes inside into a temperature controlled area or room in the house during the middle part of the day to sleep.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can come on very quickly. It’s important especially in this early part of the summer to be vigilant and always be thinking ahead of what the weather is going to be like that day. Make sure your yard and outdoor areas provide all the essentials so your dog can have a cool summer!