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Many people don’t realize they’re hurting their dogs. Here are 7 tips to remember this summer.

Dhicon_thumb By DogHeirs Team | May 13, 2014 | Comments (3)

Dog-on-pavement_large

Playing in the summer sunshine with your dog is great fun, but there are a few simple precautions you can take to keep your dogs cool in the heat and protect them from heat-related problems.

By understanding how your dog copes with the warm temperatures and planning ahead you can avoid potentially dangerous situations.

How dogs cool off

Dogs cool down and regulate their body temperature by panting and sweating through their paws and nose. As a dog breathes in, air travels through their nasal passage and is cooled before it reaches the lungs.

When temperatures become warmer and more humid, a dog has a harder time cooling down. Your dog’s heart and lungs work harder as your dog breathes in and out quicker to reduce their body temperature. This is especially true in short-snouted dogs, who have a harder time cooling down because of their shorter nasal passages.


Here are a few safety tips when taking your dog out in warm weather.


1. Stay off Hot Pavement

One major thing that many dog owners overlook when it's sunny out is their dog's feet. Paw pads can be easily burned by hot pavement. Summer heat warms pavements just like a frying pan and if the pavement gets too hot it can burn your dog’s paws. Sand can also get very hot, so use the hand technique to check sandy surfaces too.

Press the back of your hand against the asphalt or concrete for 7 seconds to verify if it will be comfortable for your dog to walk on. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.

Avoid these surfaces during the day or consider putting protective booties or paw wax on your dog’s paws as added protection.

 

The chart below lists temperatures in Fahrenheit:

Hot asphalt awareness in fahrenheit

 

The chart below lists temperatures in Celcius:

Hot asphalt awareness in celcius

2. Prevent sunburn.

The ear tips, bridge of the nose, around the eyes and abdomen are all sensitive areas on a dog's skin. These areas have thinner skin and are more exposed. So, if you plan to be out in hot sun for a while, consider purchasing a sun protector or high factor waterproof sunscreen MADE FOR DOGS and whenever possible rest in the shade. Also if you have a thin haired dog and/or white dog you may need to take extra precautions as they tend to get sunburned more easily.

3. Groom shedding dogs and long-haired dogs.

Most dogs shed their coats at the beginning of summer, so daily grooming will help to remove the unwanted hair and will make your dog more comfortable. For long-haired dogs, trimming their coat may also help with keeping them cooler in the summer months. Regularly grooming your dogs fur will also give you extra time to check for ticks and fleas and to check their skin and paws are in good shape.

4. Keep away ticks and fleas.

Being outdoors is great, but wooded areas and long grasses also tend to be home for ticks and fleas. Read our articles on how to monitor and remove fleas and how to remove ticks safely and prevent your dog from getting a parasite-related disease.

5. Stay Hydrated.

Pack extra water for your dog on any excursion and make sure your dog's water bowl is always filled and close by.

6. Avoid water with blue-green algae.

Unfortunately, a growning number of ponds, lakes and rivers have blooms of blue-green algae during warmer months. It's important to monitor waterways for unusual algae blooms and be alert to local advisories and warning signs around waterways. Read more about the dangers of blue-green algae and how to keep your dog safe here.

7. Recognize the signs of heat exhaustion/heat stroke.

Dogs can succumb to heat stroke very quickly in warm and humid weather because the only way dogs releases heat is by panting and sweating through the foot pads and nose. Prevention is key. Avoid vigorous exercise on hot days, keep your dog hydrated and do not leave him/her alone outside or in a warm space (eg car). That said, if you notice any of these signs in your dog or someone else's, they may be suffering heat stroke:

  • Vigorous panting
  • Dark red gums
  • Dry gums
  • bloody vomiting or diarrhea
  • lying down and unwilling or can’t get up
  • staggering gait
  • collapse and/or loss of consciousness
  • thick saliva
  • seizures

If the dog is suffering heat stroke:

  • move the dog out of the heat
  • cool them off with a shower or tap water or place cool wet rags on their footpads and head. Do NOT use ice cold water - this can actually harm the dog further.
  • offer the dog water but don’t force him/her to drink.
  • call or visit the vet right away.

For more detail on identifying and treating heatstroke read our article here.

Note: Certain types of dogs are more sensitive to heat especially elderly dogs, overweight dogs and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, like Pugs, Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Boxers and even Staffies. Take extreme precautions with these breeds during summer.

By taking a few simple precautions, you will help protect your dog and you will both have a lot more fun in the summer!


Copyright 2015 DogHeirs. All Rights Reserved.


View more articles in: Safety and Emergency Care

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Comments on this Article

Do not trim your dog's long coat. When people see a dog with a long coat on a hot day, they imagine what it would be like if they (the person) were in a big hairy coat in that heat. The difference is that humans have evolved to have much less body hair than other animals and therefore have evolved other methods of staying cool in the heat. Dogs and cats (because people inexplicably shave their cats too) have evolved their own methods of staying cool. Dogs' coats are specifically designed to keep them cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. By shaving or trimming your dog's fur, you are preventing them from properly thermo-regulating themselves.
Interesting article. Paw wax will not help your pet on a hot surface. Paw wax is made for winter use.
A very informative article. One thing I would add concerning the hand test would be to use a little common sense. If you find that the ground or pavement is really hot don't burn yourself by holding your hand there for a full 7 seconds. Also newer asphalt that is a darker black will be more efficient at absorbing the suns heat. The darker the surface the hotter it will be. Also avoid cracks in the pavement that have been sealed with tar. The tar is usually darker and softer than asphalt and can become very hot and sometimes sticky. Sometimes concrete and asphalt can hold their heat even after the sun has gone down. During the hottest days of the summer I usually walk my dogs in the early morning or in the evening after the sun has gone down, and I prefer dirt paths and grass. I carry a squeeze water bottle that hooks onto my belt with the flip out bowl. Before going out on walks I put a little bit of water in the plastic bottle and freeze it in the freezer. When it's time to go I fill it up with water and the ice in the bottom keeps it cooler longer. Because I use a squeeze bottle there is no chance my dog can choke on a piece of ice. When it's really hot out and my dogs start panting quickly I keep the walks short and lazy. No strenuous physical activity. Thanks DogHeirs for such an informative and helpful article.
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