It might be that I’m a summer baby, but summer has always been my favorite season. The sun is shining, and the blue skies are beckoning you to a new adventure. There’s no shortage of outdoor adventures, from outings to the park, long hikes, beach days, and family vacations.
The rising temps and outdoor adventures can pose different risks for dogs. There are 5 summer heat dangers for dogs that might surprise you! Be aware of what to watch out for with this round-up of tips to keep your dog happy, healthy, and safe all summer long.
The most typical warm weather danger for dogs is overheating. Dogs can’t communicate when thirsty, so we have to be aware of their needs. Paying attention to your dog’s behavior can help to avoid overheating, dehydration and heatstroke. In this case, prevention is the best medicine!
A dog’s fur keeps them warm in winter and cools them in the summer, helping to regulate their body heat.
Dogs pant to cool themselves. The process of panting evaporates moisture from their lungs. If the weather is humid, they can’t properly cool down, and overheating can happen faster.
Short-nosed breeds don’t pant as well as other dogs and are more likely to overheat. (Including pugs & bulldogs.) Some airlines will no longer allow these breeds to fly in the plane’s cargo area for this reason.
Help your dog beat the heat by watching out for these symptoms: panting, dry gums and nose, thickened saliva, loss of energy, sunken eyes, and loss of skin elasticity.
Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.
Dogs become dehydrated as they lose more fluid than they are taking in. Fluid loss happens in dogs through panting, urinating, and evaporation or sweating through their paws.
Hydration: When it comes to hydration, people often overlook dogs being thirsty. A practical way to keep tabs on your dog is always to anticipate that your dog could be thirsty when you are thirsty.
Skin Elasticity Test. This test is one of the easiest ways to test for dehydration. Watch this first aid video for an example. Try it out to see how it responds! If you pull at or “tent” the skin on your dog’s back, it should quickly return to normal. If a dog is dehydrated, its skin will lose its elasticity and will not return to normal if pulled on. It’s good to try this out when you know they aren’t dehydrated to have a good comparison.
Rehydrate with Electrolytes: It may take more than just water to perk your pup back up once he’s overheated. If you see any of the above symptoms, rehydrate your dog with electrolytes. Pedialyte, electrolyte-enhanced water, or an electrolyte solution are all effective methods. Please stay away from added dyes and check with your veterinarian for their specific recommendations.
Emergency Help: If the dehydration is severe, you may need to go to an emergency vet who can administer intravenous fluids.
Frozen Dog Treats: Nothing beats a popsicle or a pupsicle for your pooch on a hot summer day! You can go simple and offer your dog frozen chunks of banana, strawberries, or blueberries as a tasty summertime treat. Try these easy, vet-approved pup pop recipes to treat your dog.
Heatstroke can be severe. Outside of the fact that it is incredibly uncomfortable, prolonged exposure to excessive heat can result in death. Heatstroke occurs when a dog is overwhelmed by high temperatures and can no longer cool itself. Both the temperature reached and the amount of time an animal is exposed to high temperatures impact the damage that can occur. See below for the signs of heatstroke and how to best care for your dog.
● Rapid panting
● Heavy breathing
● Excessive drooling
● Bright red gums and tongue
● Difficulty maintaining balance
● White or blue gums
● Lethargy, unwilling to move
● Uncontrollable urination or defecation
● Labored and noisy breathing
The best way to treat heatstroke is prevention. You can help your dog avoid overheating by being aware of the temperature and limiting his work or play in hot weather. Try to do training sessions or exercise during cooler parts of the day, like morning or evening. When it’s hot, provide cool water shade and rest.
If you notice that your dog is exhibiting any of the above signs, try to cool him down. Move into the shade, spray your dog with cool or tepid water (lukewarm water), and fan him off to cool him down. If you can move indoors where there is AC, that’s even better.
You can keep tabs on your dog’s temperature as you attempt to cool him down. A dog’s average body temperature is between 101 and 102.5. Once you reach that range, you can stop applying cooling methods.
Severe heatstroke cases require medical attention. A veterinarian can provide your dog with additional support like fluids, medicine, and oxygen if needed. If you can’t get your dog’s temperature stabilized and see the advanced signs of heatstroke, it’s time to seek emergency help – get to the vet immediately.
Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle. Most people don’t realize how quickly a car can heat up during warm weather, which can be very dangerous for your pet.
The heat trapped inside of a car warms it like a convection oven and causes irreparable organ damage, brain damage, or suffocation for any living thing trapped inside.
Even when temps aren’t as hot, the temperature in a car can exceed 120° in minutes—even with the windows partially open.
When it’s 72° F outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour. The temperature inside a vehicle will reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit in 25 minutes when the outside temperature is only 73° F. And when it’s 80° F outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 99 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 minutes!
Leaving windows cracked has been shown to have little effect on the internal temperature of a closed vehicle.
If you see an animal locked inside a car that is off and you believe the dog(or anyone) is in danger, what can you do? According to the Humane Society, if you see an animal locked in a vehicle that is showing signs of heat stress, here are some steps you can take to help:
Good Samaritan laws (in some states) allow for the legal removal of animals from cars under certain circumstances. You should look up the laws in your area and follow any steps required.
Snakes are the most common wildlife hazard for dogs. The best way to keep your dog from being bit is to keep him leased, don’t wander off the trails, and remain alert when you are in an area where you might encounter them. More time outdoors = increased exposure to snakes, ticks, and other insects.
Ticks and other critters can make your pooch very uncomfortable. Visually check your dog for ticks or other pests that may have hitched a ride home on your dog. Remove them cautiously and safely.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll find this blog helpful for spending your summer in the great outdoors.
Dogs can get sunburnt too! Too much sun exposure can cause painful burns. If you plan on spending much time in the sun, be sure to apply sunscreen to his ears, nose, and coat before going outdoors. Dogs with short hair, white fur, and pink skin can get burnt quicker than others. Be sure to monitor your dog’s exposure during the day.
A dog’s paws are sensitive, and hot surfaces can cause blisters and burns in the summer. Pavement, metal, asphalt, sand, dirt, and turf can all become hot enough to cause burns. When temperatures are 85 degrees or more consistently throughout the day, the ground can be too hot to walk your dog safely.
The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that “when the air temperature is 86 degrees, the asphalt temperature registers 135 degrees.”
To test the ground to see if it is too hot for your dog, place your hand on the ground for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog.
If you don’t have the option to choose a grassy or shady area, dog shoes or boots can protect your dog’s paws, be sure to help them get used to them before venturing out.
The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!
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