Summer temperatures are starting to appear, and for humans, that means more outdoor activities, pool or beach days and sunbathing. But for our furry friends, summer can be potentially dangerous, especially if they’re left in a situation in which the heat becomes too much for them.
If your dog will be spending any time outside in the heat this summer season, you’ll want to take extra precautions and ensure your pup has a way to stay cool under the heat of the sun. If needs like water and shade aren’t met, your dog could suffer from heatstroke, which could potentially be fatal.
Here’s what you need to do to keep your dog safe, cool and happy all summer long.
Make outside a cooler place to be
When the weather is nice, a lot of dog owners like to relax in the yard or in a park with their dogs by their side. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t able to tell us when they’re feeling a little too warm, so it’s our responsibility to make the outdoors as comfortable as possible so our dogs stay safe.
Make sure your outdoor space has these major things if your dog will be outside for an extended period of time.
- Shelter and shade: You don’t want to let the hot summer sun beat down on your dog all day. After all, would you feel comfortable if you didn’t have a shaded place to rest all day? If your yard lacks a tree with natural shade, erect a tarp or sheet to create a DIY fort for your pup to rest under and cool off.
- Lots of water: Dogs get dehydrated very easily in the summer, especially since they pant and sweat through their paws to cool off. For this reason, your dog should have access to a constant stream of cool, clean water to drink. Make sure it has at least one or two bowls of water and add a few ice cubes to keep the water nice and cold.
- A way to cool off: Water isn’t only needed to drink, but also to help your pup cool off its increasingly warm coat. Give your dog a small wading or kiddie pool to take a dip in and get itself wet in order to cool off.
- A cool escape over time: When the temperatures rise to extremes, you shouldn’t be leaving your dog outside for long periods of time. Overexposure to the sun and heat puts it at a higher risk for heatstroke, sunburn and more. On really hot days, check on your dog and allow it to come inside whenever it wants so it can get a true break from the outdoor heat.
In addition to these tips, you should be mindful of what will make your dog the most comfortable when temperatures rise. Try to take your pup on early morning or early evening walks when the sun isn’t as intense, and the temperatures are lower. This will also help protect its paws from very hot concrete or asphalt.
Additionally, consider applying pet-safe sunscreen to your dog when it’s outside to protect it from sunburns. Dogs can get sunburned much like humans, and burns caused by extreme heat can be very painful and damaging.
Finally, remember that you should never, under any circumstance, leave your dog unattended in a parked car in the summertime. Temperatures in parked cars can escalate extremely fast, drastically increasing your dog’s risk for heatstroke and even death in as little as 10 minutes.
Know the signs of heatstroke
Unfortunately, heatstroke can affect your dog when you least expect it, even if you’re following tips to help it stay cool. On hot days, it’s very important to monitor your dog and make sure it’s not displaying signs of heatstroke or dehydration.
Your dog may react differently depending on if it’s feeling a little warm or suffering from heatstroke. If it’s just feeling warm, it might pant a little more than usual, lay in a pool or dig in the yard to find a cool spot in the mud.
However, if it’s suffering from heat stroke, it will show much more severe symptoms, including:
- Lethargy or inability to move
- Uncoordinated movement
- Excessive panting and rapid breathing
- Muscle tremors
- Vomiting and diarrhea
If not treated quickly enough, heatstroke can be fatal.
If you notice these signs, bring your dog into a cool space right away and wrap it in cold, dampened towels to help reduce its body temperature. Encourage your dog to drink cool water, as well. The goal will be to gradually reduce your dog’s temperature to avoid shock. Contact your vet for further instructions or to see if you need to bring your pet in for an examination.