Dog Days of Summer
Keeping your Dog Cool
While there is a lot of joy in owning a dog, this is also a very important job that comes with a lot of responsibility. Beyond walking and playtime, dogs need to be fed and watered daily, groomed, trained, and given proper care that keeps them comfortable and safe. Unfortunately, even great dog owners forget or overlook critical things such as the importance of keeping an animal cool.
Obviously, keeping your dog cool is essential but especially if you live in a part of the world with harsh summer climates or high levels of humidity. Keep in mind that certain breeds stay cool naturally because their long, thick hair serves as insulation. However, if you have a dog with long, thick hair, we recommend conducting research online or talking to the veterinarian to see if the animal is okay during the hot summer months or if perhaps he needs to be clipped.
Risks of an Overheated Dog
Before going over helpful tips on ways to keep your dog cool but also avoid potentially dangerous situations, we wanted to offer brief insight into changes that occur when a canine becomes overheated, as well as things you can do to help. Just like humans, canines can experience heatstroke. If not properly treated, this can create a life-threatening emergency, which is why it is so critical to know how to handle the problem.
Although a dog is at risk for heatstroke on a hot day, risk is greatest on days with high levels of humidity. However, there are additional risk factors to include older dogs, overweight dogs, breeds with short snouts, dogs with respiratory problems, or those with a history of prior heatstroke. If your dog falls into any of the high-risk categories, extra precaution is mandatory.
Early signs of heatstroke include excessive salivation and non-stop panting but as the dog’s condition worsens, the gums will change to a dark pink color and become dry to the touch. A dog in crisis will also begin to show signs of lethargy, develop chronic bloody diarrhea, and go into seizures. At the point when the body temperature is high, damage can occur to internal organs and again, put the animal at risk for dying.
As part of learning about keeping your dog cool, it is essential to know not only the signs of heatstroke but also life-saving techniques. If your pet displays any of the warning signs start cooling the body down immediately by hosing the animal down outdoors or placing him in a bathtub of cool water, not cold to avoid constricting blood vessels. In a dire situation when the animal does not respond or collapses, he must be rushed to the veterinarian.
There are also preventative measures that can be taken in an effort to keep your dog cool. Again, find out if your dog’s fur should be clipped, make sure he has a shaded area if left outdoors or a cool room within the home, and always provide him with access to cold, fresh water daily.
Dangers to Avoid
With the information provided, you will find it easier to keep your dog cool but there are also dangerous situations to avoid.
Outdoor Housing – If your dog stays outside the majority of time, be sure he has a well-built shelter that provides protection from the sun but also something designed to insulate so the interior remains relatively cool. Even with this, we strongly recommend placing the doghouse under a shaded tree. The thing you want to avoid is any type of open shelter without a roof or a doghouse with a metal roof that would create an extremely hot interior. In addition, if the doghouse is on a concrete slab, put down a thick layer of quality straw.
Cars – A dog should never be left unattended in a vehicle on hot days, even for five minutes. Many people think as long as windows are cracked, an animal will be okay but this is completely false. The interior of a car will reach deadly temperatures within a very short amount of time. Sadly, thousands of dogs die because irresponsible or uneducated pet owners left them in a vehicle on a hot day with the windows cracked for 10 minutes or less.
Travel – It is also important to plan well when traveling. Just as if the animal were at home, it is important to provide an environment that is cool. For this, make sure your vehicle’s air conditioning system is working properly and again, provide your pet access to cold water.
Outdoor Playtime – Training, and Exercise – Even during hot summers, a dog needs to be played with, exercised, and in many cases, trained. However, physical exertion can speed up the overheating process so precautionary measures are necessary. Try to find an area of the yard or visit a local park with ample shade. In addition, spend the majority of time outdoors before 10:00 am and then after 4:00 pm, which are the coolest and safest times. Even then, we suggest limiting the time to no more than 15 minutes while still watching for signs of potential trouble.
Map of Dog parks & Beaches