Winter is over, we’ve had our two days of spring and now summer is upon us in full force. Rising temperatures are always accompanied by high humidity and that combination can be a bad recipe for pets. Here are a few things to look for and some ways you can enjoy the outdoors safely with your dogs this summer.
Body temperature can rise pretty quickly in dogs. Heat exhaustion can occur in less than a half hour of exposure in the heat of the day. Try to limit your long walks and play time to early mornings and late evening when it is cooler. Give your pets plenty of breaks and rest in the shade and access to cool clean water. Some panting is okay as that is how dogs regulate their body temperature. Excessive panting and sudden lethargy are early signs of heat exhaustion and possible heat stroke. Buy and carry with you a cheap digital thermometer. Normal rectal temperature for a dog is between 100 and 102 F. With excitement and exercise that can climb to 103-104 and the dog still be okay. Anything 105 and above and it is time to shut down the play and get them inside in the air conditioner and in front of a fan. Placing some rubbing alcohol on the inside of the ears and in between the foot pads can also help lower the body temp quickly and safely.
If you dog becomes overheated DO NOT SOAK THEM OR HOSE THEM DOWN WITH WATER! Water has tremendous insulation property and it will actually hold the heat in, especially if the downy layer of the fur is wet. The safest and fastest way to cool them down is to get them inside and get a fan on them.
Summer shave downs can help keep a long haired dog cooler in the summer. However avoid shaving too close. Some hair is good for insulation and will actually keep your pet cooler. Also cutting the hair too close puts your dog at risk for sunburn. If you have a thin haired or hairless dog that is at risk for sunburn you can use a pet approved sunscreen. Any pet approved sunscreen will be zinc oxide and PABA free as both of these can be toxic to dogs if ingested.
Don’t let the heat of the summer keep you from getting outside and enjoying yourself and your pets. By taking a few simple precautions and knowing what to look for you both can have a safe and fun filled summer!