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8 Summer Safety Tips for Dogs


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Being inside for so long, we are and are dogs may be desperate to get out. Here are eight tips to keep dogs safe in hot weather:

Seeing this means a visit to the veterinary ER

Size and heavy coat matter

1, Being dogs they aren’t as capable at self-regulating their body temperatures as we humans are. Many dogs – especially large dogs – do better in the winter, as they are always wearing a winter coat. However, they can’t remove that coat in the summer. Also, panting – how dogs cool themselves – isn’t a particularly efficient way to keep cool. Sweating, which is – of course – what we do – works much better. Dogs do sweat some from their paw pads, and if you note little footprints it means your pup is either really hot or really nervous or both. Keep in mind if you are hot, your dog (especially if it is a larger dog or a brachycephalic breed) is even more hot.

2. Brachycephalic breeds – those are dogs with “pushed in faces” and limited airways have a limited ability to keep cool. So for the Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, French Bulldog, Japanese Chin, Pekingese the Pug, some dogs referred to as pit bulls and others, a 75 day that feels comfortable for us, may be stifling. Imagine what it feels like to these dogs when it’s over 90 degrees. It literally may be hard to breath. And these dogs, in particular, are prone to heat stroke. Even a two-block walk under 90 degrees of sunshine and high enough humidity can be grueling. Bring water on any walk if the temperature is even 80.

3. Just as we are spoiled by air conditioning, so are our dogs. They may not be as acclimated to extreme temperatures as our great granddaddy’s dogs were. It’s unfair to expect dogs to sit in a backyard when it’s 90 degrees out if they are not accustomed to those temperatures. And to do so without shade and water is downright inhumane and potentially dangerous, and may even be considered animal abuse.

Sunrise and sunset walks are a good idea

4. Of course, for your comfort as well as your dog’s, walks and definitely runs should be early in the morning or after sunset. Be sure to bring water.

5. Just as swimming pools are appealing to us when it’s really hot outside, the same is true for dogs. Do consider that Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese and others are likely to sink like a rock should they jump in. Life vests for dogs might be a lifesaver, and so is adult supervision. Even the Michael Phelps of the dog world, like Labradors or Newfoundlands, can’t swim forever. Insure they have an easy route to get out of the pool. Beware of the dangers of blue green algae in lakes, ponds and rivers.

6. One totally safe way for dogs to keep cool are kiddie pools filled with about 8-inches of water. No dog can drown, yet they can lie down if they want or splash about. Periodically add some ice to keep the water cool. (However, really cold ice water is a bad idea.)

7. When it’s 85 degrees and sunny, midday asphalt can exceed 150 degrees.  Of course, given a choice dogs will avoid walking on a surface that hot. However, being a leash, we don’t always give dogs the choice. If you can’t keep your hand, palm-down, on the asphalt for around three minutes, it’s too hot. When dogs “dance” on hot asphalt, it’s not to entertain us – they can burn paw pads. Sometimes minor burns can’t be easily seen by non-professionals.

Dogs do die in hot cars

8. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals notes since 2019 63 animals have died in a hot car.. No doubt that number is likely higher, as not all instances are reported. On a 90-degree day, a car will heat up to well over 100 degrees in 10 minutes, even with windows open a crack. That’s a potential death sentence. If it’s 80 degrees out, hitting 100 only takes 15 minutes. It’s not a myth – dogs do die in hot cars, and it continues to happen far too often. I leaned what it feels like to be a dog in a hot car.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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