Summer is a great time to explore and enjoy the outdoors with your dog or other pet, especially after a long winter. You can take them out for longer walks, hiking, and picnicking, but remember that pets have limits when it comes to heat exposure that are different than our limits.
Dogs have less of an ability to cool themselves off than humans do because they sweat less. Mostly all they can do is pant and continue to drink water. That’s why it is our responsibility as pet owners to protect our pet’s health and set healthy boundaries for outdoor time, especially in the hot summer months.
Understanding pets are different from you will help you protect them when you venture outdoors with them in the summer. See the following tips to keep your pet happy and safe all summer long.
1. Know Signs of Overheating
Have you ever seen your dog panting excessively? This panting is a signal to your that your dog is overheating. A pet cannot verbalize to you in the way that other humans or a child can, so it is essential that you know how to read your pet’s body language and pick up on important signaIs.
It is paramount to be aware of the warning signs that your dog is in an unhealthy state of overheating, so he or she doesn’t run into larger health problems such as seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomit when body temperature exceeds 104 degrees. Watch for other warning signs like dry or bright red gums, thick drool, wobbly legs, and increased heart rate.
If you notice that your dog is overheating, bring your pet into a cooler temperature area as soon as possible. This could be the shade, in an air conditioned vehicle, or indoors. Provide water and allow time for your dog to cool off. If things become more serious, take your pet to an animal hospital as soon as possible.
2. Provide Plenty of Water on Walks
Water is critical when in danger of overheating, but it’s also important to be proactive and be sure your pet stays hydrated. You must provide sufficient water and shade for your pet as dehydration is both likely and common during the summer.
Signs of dehydration include dry gums and excessive drooling. Before you even see signs, bring water for your dog as a common practice when you take your dog walking or hiking. Consider that pets get thirstier than we do when they overheat so make sure you pack plenty of H2O!
If you are taking your dog on a long walk during the summer, be mindful of what time of day you are walking your dog. Around noon is typically the highest heat point of the day, so try to plan for the hours near sun rising or setting for cooler temperatures. Also, keep your dog’s feet off of asphalt and cement so they don’t burn their paws and generate more body heat.
3. Never Ever Leave Your Pet in the Car!
You’ve surely heard this rule of thumb before, but it cannot be stressed enough. Even when it is just 80 degrees outside, the inside of your car can cook, especially if parked directly in the sun. In fact, the temperature can even escalate over 150 degrees!
It only takes minutes in a parked car for the temperature to increase at least 20 degrees, causing a pet to suffocate or have a heat stroke. Leaving your pet in the car is even illegal in 16 states. Avoid running errands with your pet to avoid this issue.
4. Don’t Shave Your Pet
Trimming is okay, but do not shave your dog for the summer. A dog’s fur is actually designed to cool him or her off during the summer and keep them warmer in the winter. Dog fur also protects from sunburn.
Protect your dog from sunburn by leaving at least an inch of hair when you trim. If your dog has less fur and exposed skin, make sure you apply a sunscreen appropriate for dogs.
5. Parasite Protection
Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can carry tapeworms, heartworms, Lyme disease, and other parasites. There are monthly medicines you can give to your pet as prescribed by a veterinarian to protect your pet and prevent certain diseases. Remember that many of these diseases can be caught by humans too so you will also be protecting yourself.
The most important thing you can do as a dog owner is be conscientious and mindful of your pet at all times during the summer or a heat wave. Watch carefully for the symptoms of overheating and be prepared in advance for remedies that can prevent overheating, and other heat related problems like parasites and sunburn. Take care of your beloved pet!
Author bio: Laurie is a freelance writer based on the east coast who enjoys writing on health and lifestyle topics. She spends most of her time contributing to Mattress Advisor’s sleep health articles, and in her free time enjoys being outdoors.