How to Keep Dogs Safe in the Summer Heat
Since dogs can't speak it is sometimes easy to forget that they are as sensitive as us when it comes to their environments. Depending on their coats and facial structure they can get cold or overheat quickly. For your dog's wellbeing, it is important to make sure that they are staying safe and comfortable in the heat of the summer. I have put together a list of ways that you can keep your dog safe from the summer heat and maybe even have some fun with your canine companion at the same time.
1. Make Sure The Water Bowl Is Full
Contrary to popular belief dogs do sweat, though they also regulate heat by panting; both forms of releasing excess heat also release water. To stay safe and healthy in the summer sun, dogs need access to plenty of water. If you want to go all out, you can buy a water bowl that chills the water, but I keep mine under the deck where it's in the shade for the entirety of the day. Some people even put ice in their dog's bowls to allow it to melt over time. Make sure that you check the bowl often because your pup could be extra thirsty or could spill the water while playing. I have a bigger bowl for my two small dogs to avoid having to fill in multiple times a day. Water is important for walks too, I recommend a folding water bowl that you can keep in your pocket and fill at your convenience.
2. Force Breaks
Though they may fight you on it, it is important to bring your baby in every once in a while to take a break. Some days I almost have to pick up my Boston Terrier and carry him inside because he loves being in the backyard so much. Even though they think they are ok, it is in their best interest to get them out of the sun and into the cool house every once in a while.
3. Protect the Paws
It is so easy to forget that dogs walk around on their bare feet. Of course, they were meant to do that, so their paws are a little more durable than our soft hands. Durable as they may be, they were never meant to walk over hot pavement. Even where I live in Minnesota, we can get some days in the summer where it gets so hot that the asphalt begins to melt. Walking your dog on hot surfaces can hurt them, so it is vital to protect them as much as possible.
The first thing you can do is check how hot the sidewalk is by pressing your hand to it for a few seconds if it is warm enough to cause you pain it will probably do the same for your pooch. A few more steps you can take is to plan out walking paths that have a lot of shaded areas or keep your dog on cooler grass as much as possible. If you live in a concrete jungle where these aren't options you can always use the same booties that dogs use in the winter to protect their feet from the cold.
4. Offer Shade
Sometimes all you need is a little shade to keep your pup cool. I use the tent above because it is easy to set up and take down, it's relatively inexpensive, and my kids can use it as a play area as well. When winter comes, it can easily be stored away, and so far it has seemed pretty durable even with my destructive litter.
5. Get to the Vet
The summer is a great time to get your dog their annual checkup for a number of reasons. Having the vet look over your dog may catch something that you have missed, especially if your dog is spending more time outside. If there is an issue, say a damaged paw, for example, your vet can prescribe treatment to cure the ailment. There are also a lot of nasty bugs that pop up during the summer that can be detrimental to your dog like ticks and heartworm causing mosquitos. The summer is an excellent time to get a heartworm test and make sure that your dog is up to date on heartworm medication.
6. Know Your Dog
Some breeds, like this adorable Boston Terrier, don't do well in the heat because of their short snouts. I am a proud Boston owner, and I am always checking on my boy Loo because he never wants to come inside even though he should. Get to know any specific needs of your dog's breed and any signs of overheating that you need to watch.
Similarly, if your dog has a longer coat, the summer is a great time to get a trim. Sheering off that coat can help your dog to stay cool and release excess heat. Be careful not to go too short because a dog's skin can sunburn just like yours. Just like humans, each dog is different, so it is essential to get to know your dog as an individual but learning more about their breed and how they react to their environment as a whole is an excellent place to start.
7. Never, EVER, Leave Your Dog In a Hot Car
This idea has been picking up more steam over the past few years, but some people still don't seem to understand how dangerous it is to leave their dog in a parked car. I seriously get it, your dog is your best friend, and you want to bring them everywhere with you, but leaving a dog in a hot car is literally like putting them in an oven. Like this video shows it only takes a few minutes for a hot car to become unbearable and heat stroke can set in on a dog in as little as fifteen minutes. It is safer and healthier for your dog to stay in the comfort of their home while you run errands and it will prevent you from getting your windows smashed in by someone taking your dog's safety into their own hands.
8. Have Some Fun
Just because you are trying to keep your dog safe doesn't mean that you can't have some fun in the process. Bust out a kiddie pool or put on a sprinkler for your dog. They will love having some interactive play time, and the water will help to keep them cool. Make sure that they don't put too much energy into playtime or they could still overheat. Have some fun this summer and enjoy all the time you can with your furry best friend.