Sure, summer is one of the most fun seasons of the year. But when the temperatures start rising, you want to make your pets continue the party — safely. Dogs can quickly become overheated on a hot summer day, leading to heat stroke that can be deadly (surprisingly fast) if not immediately recognized and treated.
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Take preventative steps to ensure your pup is cool and well hydrated, and always take his comfort needs into consideration when planning outings and time outside. Look for warning signs that your dog is overheating. Above all, exercise good old-fashioned common sense. Learning how to keep dogs cool in summer is easy for any pet parent and family member.
1. Keep your dog hydrated
When you keep dogs outside in summer they should always have access to a cool, clean water supply, regardless of the temperature. This becomes even more vital in the summer months when water can quickly evaporate from your dog's outside bowl. Consider an automatic watering bowl that refills as your dog drinks the water, or use an extra large container and check it several times a day to make sure your pet still has plenty of water.
If possible, give your dog chilled, not iced water, which can be a shock. Your dog might also try to chew on the ice cubes. Putting a smaller bowl of water on top of a larger bowl with ice will do the trick.
2. Give your dog access to cool shelter
If you have an outside dog who can cool himself off in the shade of trees in your yard or under a porch or awning, that should be sufficient. Otherwise, make sure you provide a shelter area that is protected from the sun.
Additionally, don't allow your dog to spend all day out in the summer heat. Give him regular access to the cool indoors to guard against potential heat stroke. Adding a sensor-activated doggie door to one of your doors allows your dog to head inside to cool down without needing you to open the door.
3. Protect pooch's paws
Concrete and asphalt can get incredibly hot in the summer, and retain that heat even when the sun goes down. Don't leave your dog on a concrete pad in the summer, or take him for walks on hot surfaces without protecting the delicate pads of his feet. If you go for a stroll or run, protective dog booties can guard against paw burns.
4. Prevent a sunburned pup.
Just like people, dogs can potentially get sunburned if exposed to harmful rays for extended periods of time. This is more likely for dogs with extremely short hair or white hair. Talk to your vet about topical creams and sunblocks that are appropriate to use on your dog's skin to protect him against potential sunburn.
5. Prevent heat stroke
Don't exercise your dog for extended periods of time when the temperature is high. If you're hot and sweaty outside, your dog is probably uncomfortable, too. Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting and breathing, a bright red tongue and sometimes pale gums, as well as disorientation, vomiting and gastrointestinal upset.
Reduce your dog's temperature immediately with a cool bath, washing down his paws with cool water and packing his groin region and underarms with ice packs. Make sure kids know how to cool dogs off.
Don't put an overheated pet into a cold pool or bathtub. The shock might be too great. Start with a cool dip by having your pet step into the pool or tub, then pouring the water over her a bit at a time. Call your vet for further guidance.