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Hot Enough for You and Your Dog?

By Steven May of the Daily Growl for Pet News and Views

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the first six months of 2012 was the hottest on record across the United States, a full 4.5 degrees hotter than the long-term average.  June alone saw 170 U.S. cities tie or break record-high temperatures. Scientists anticipate continual hot temperatures throughout the remainder of summer and beyond so keeping our dogs safe in the heat is of the utmost importance.

Steven May and his dog

To get an idea of what life is like for your dog take off your shoes and take a little walk down a hot sidewalk. Although dogs have pads on their feet, sizzling hot sidewalks, which reach much higher temperatures than the air, can burn their pads. This is just one of the dangers facing our dogs when the thermometer rises but by taking a few, common-sense preventative measures, you can help keep your canine companion cool, comfortable and safe through the “dog days” of summer.

Provide a shaded and well-ventilated area for outdoor exercise
Just as a cold winter shouldn’t eliminate your dog’s exercise needs, neither should a hot summer.  If your backyard is the primary spot for exercise, consider a mister or even running a sprinkler during exercise time. Choose a dog park that has ample shade or adjust your dog’s exercise schedule to take place after the sun goes down and the temperature begins to drop. Unlike humans a dog’s sweat glands, which help regulate temperature, are only found on their noses and pads of their feet.  So it’s essential that we don’t expose our dogs to temperatures that they are not equipped to handle. And while this goes without saying; water-water-water.

Brushing for Ventilation
Mid and long-haired dogs have the added burden of wearing a coat during the summer. While a visit to the groomer can take care of some of the excess fur it’s also important to brush our dogs at least five times a week. This provides extra ventilation for their skin.  And don’t shave your dog

Summer is more than just heat
The summer months also bring an assortment of new plant growth, some of which can be detrimental to our dogs. Of particular concern are foxtails, most typically found in weedy areas which sprout in the spring and turn brown in the summer when the temperature heats up. Foxtails can attach themselves to our dog’s feet, inside their nose and even ear canals. Foxtails can cause extreme discomfort so it’s important to check your dog daily for any intruders.

An Ocean of Lotion
There are many pet-specific sunblocks on the market which should be used in much the same manner as we use them. Don’t think that you’re sunblock will be right for your pet. Many contain chemicals that can be harmful to a dog if ingested. Apply the sunblock frequently to sensitive areas such as the nose, tips of the ears and any area that has little or no hair coverage such as the groin and the belly.  And dress your dog in a T-shirt for extra sun block protection.

Your Car  is a Furnace
On an 85-degree day it only takes about 10 minutes for a car’s interior to climb over 100 degrees with cracking a window doing little to help. Once a dog’s internal temperature reaches 109 degrees heatstroke, and possibly death, is the result. Never leave your dog in an unattended vehicle on a hot day. Ever.

We all know how good it feels to down that ice cold beverage or take a shower or swim on a hot day. And it’s no different for our dogs. As owners it’s our responsibility to not just watch for the symptoms of overheating, such as excessive panting and drooling, staggering and extreme weakness, but to avoid putting our dogs in situations where the heat could potentially hurt them.

About the Author
For 35 years, Steven May has provided his expert pet advice to both the veterinary industry and the general public. The former editor of Vetz Magazine, May now heads the pet website The Daily Growl and has over 113,000 followers on his daily pet advice  Facebook page.

13 comments to Hot Enough for You and Your Dog?

  • Rebecca

    Helpful post. We take longer walks when the sun is down. We really don’t like the heat.

  • Caroline

    Those evening walks are longer, and I also get up early and walk my dog around 6 a.m. before I go to work. It’s quieter then too, and it’s a great way to start the day.

  • Linda

    Morning walks are the best in our house. I’m out of the house with my dog at 6 a.m. and I get a start on my exercise before I go to work. I’m usually tired at night, so my husband walks our dog then.

  • Narda

    It’s good to know that something as simple as brushing can really make a difference when caring for a dog. It makes perfect sense.

  • Michael

    Good tips Michael! I don’t know what to do when I see dogs in cars. I have left notes on windshields, and I have also called the police. These numbskulls who do this just don’t get it.

  • Barbara

    I also walk my dogs at night and early in the morning–after the sun is down and just as it rises. I don’t like the heat either, and then it’s short walks in the middle of the day.

  • Valerie

    We have short haired white dogs and dress them in tee shirts when we go out in the middle of the day. A lot of people are unaware of sunburn. I will share this.

  • Caitlin

    I didn’t know there were lotions that are safe for dogs. Anything to offer them protection from the sun is great. Thanks!

  • Fiona

    Thanks Michael for these helpful tips. I also didn’t know about the sunscreen.

  • I am so tired of hunting down owners in stores, having them called out over the PA, when they leave a dog in a car on a hot day. If you want to be an idiot, stay home is my mantra. TY for these tips!

  • I agree Carol. I have also called 911, and they don’t always respond because it isn’t a human! We have got to change our laws.–Michele

  • Jessica Sala

    I have two very playful pitbulls and the summer heat never stops play time and they worry me! I recently bought them a plastic kiddie pool, plopped it down in the middle of the back yard and filled it up! They love it! They’ll stop at it throughout their play time and lay down in the pool and take a lounging break!

  • What a smart idea Jessica!–Thanks for sharing.–Michele