Summer is now in full swing and with it comes the long, hot days. Here are some tips and reminders to keep your dog safe during the dog days of summer.
- Dogs do not sweat through their skin but dissipate heat by panting. Dogs with compromised respiratory systems are more susceptible to heat stroke.
- Never leave your dog in the car. Many sources say when the outside temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s too hot. This is a good guideline. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can start in dogs when their internal temperature reaches 104 degrees. Keep in mind that normal temperature in dogs is around 101 degrees. The temperature inside cars can get hot fast. A scientific review written by forensic scientists measured temperature variations in parked cars. When the outside temperature was measured at 75 degrees, the temperature in the cabin of a car has been measured at 118 degrees. That’s too hot. At 81 degrees, the cabin of the car can reach 138 degrees. Cracking the windows has an effect, but not enough of one when the temperature is in the 70s. A one inch crack in all windows lowers the maximum cabin temperature by 5 degrees. A 2” crack in all windows lowers the cabin temperature by 10 degrees.
- Go for walks early in the day or in the evening. Dogs need exercise but it’s best to take them out for walks early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperatures are cooler. Also, be aware of hot asphalt. It can burn your dog’s paws. Asphalt temperatures have been measured at 143 degrees Fahrenheit when the ambient temperature was only 87 degrees. To put this in perspective, 140 degrees can cause skin damage to vulnerable areas in five seconds. Eggs can literally fry at 131 degrees. If you suspect the ground may be hot enough to make your dog uncomfortable, simply bend down and test the surface with the back of your hand. You should be able to press the back of your hand firmly into the asphalt or metal for seven seconds with no discomfort.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of water. Dogs need extra water on hot days to keep them hydrated. In addition, your pup will be grateful for a pond or creek, wading pool and/or a nice shaded area to keep cool when outside. Bring your dog inside often. Like humans, they also appreciate air conditioning and fans.
- Dogs can sunburn. Dog breeds with short or no hair at all and with white or light-colored hair are the most vulnerable canines. Sunburn most often occurs on the nose, ears, around the eyes, and the tummy area of dogs. The most common sign that your dog has sunburn is redness and tenderness around the affected area. Sometimes, in more serious cases, the sunburn can even lead to hair loss and exposed skin on the burn site. As is the case with humans, repeated sun exposure and burns can cause skin damage and possibly skin cancer for your pets. You can apply sunscreen that is specifically labeled for dogs.
Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion in your pet and how to deal with it are also important. Signs and symptoms include vigorous panting, elevated heart rate, excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, staggering, gasping, lying down and refusing to get up, and brick red, blue, or purple discoloration of the gums.
Heat Exhaustion Action Steps:
- Take immediate measures to reduce body temperature.
- Move dog to shade or air conditioned room.
- Give the dog small doses of cool water or ice cubes to lick. Do not let the dog drink a copious amount of water.
- Rinse the dog off with cool (not cold) water.
- Place ice bags around the head, neck, and chest.
- Put a fan on the dog if possible.
- Do not cover the dog with a wet towel as this may prevent heat from escaping the body.
- Bring your dog friend to us.
Here’s to a very happy and healthy summer!