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Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Summer Heat

Dog Swimming in Lake

Long, light-filled days and time off of work and school mean plenty of opportunities to have fun in the sun with your pup. But temperatures as low as the 70s can pose health threats for dogs without proper attention and care.

Since a successful summer starts with safety, we’re sharing FAQ’s on how to keep dogs healthy during the warmer months!

How hot is too hot for dogs?

Believe it or not, a dog’s fur actually helps keep them cool by wicking away sweat and protecting them from the sun. Some dogs even have double coats, such as Husky’s and Golden Retrievers, that help with temperature regulation. So while it’s sometimes ok to give them a summer trim to make their coat more manageable, it is unadvised to shave it down to the skin.

That said, certain breeds can be more susceptible to heat, such as dark-colored dogs, double-coated dogs, or dogs with flat faces like Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekinese and Boston Terriers (also known as brachycephalic breeds). They don’t pant or move air as well as others, so they have a harder time cooling off. 

Watch these pets especially carefully in the heat, and consider keeping them indoors in the AC until it cools off a bit (see chart below). Also remember that dogs are individuals no matter what breed, which is why it’s important to treat and care for them as such—from what you feed them to how you help them beat the heat. 

What are the signs of overheating?

Overheating and heat stroke can result in seizures, sudden collapses and other serious dangers without proper intervention. Which is why it’s important to prevent your dog’s body temperature from spiking in the first place.

In dogs, rapid, constant panting and lethargy are the most common indicators of overheating. In extreme cases, their gums can change color — think bluish purple, bright red or pale — from significant damage to their bodies. 

If you notice any of these signs and suspect your dog is overheating, immediately seek veterinary attention. You can also take the following steps prior to arriving at the vet, and be sure to follow their expert instructions for care: 

  • Take your pet’s temperature so you can accurately report it to the vet when you get there
  • Sponge your pet with room temperature water, not cold or hot
  • Gently fan them
  • Provide drinking water, but do not force your pet to drink
  • Stop cooling once your pet’s temperature is 103F
  • Call ahead to let your vet know you’re coming

Summer Heat Too Hot Dog Temperature Tips

What precautions should you take with your pup’s play?

Let’s be real: we can’t exactly keep our dogs in a bubble (even a perfectly air conditioned one) for the entire summer. Walks and outdoor activities are still important for your pup’s overall well-being.

But as tempting as it may be to venture out while the sun is at its highest, morning and evening excursions generally make more sense than mid-day because it tends to be cooler. 

Since heat-related health issues can take hold in an instant, it’s essential to accompany your pup on any trip outdoors, even if you’re only letting them in the backyard to do their business. Never leave your pets outside unsupervised during a heatwave.

Here are other ways to ensure that your dog stays safe and cool.

  • Bring water wherever you go. Pets need plenty of water a day (a 10-pound dog requires at least a cup per day), and that minimum only escalates in the sun.
  • Bring umbrellas, tents, or a means to create shade. Shade can reduce outdoor temperatures by as much as six-degrees, which makes a huge difference on a sweltering day.
  • Shirts and bandanas can raise your pet’s temperature. While certain collars or harnesses are necessary for safety, consider forgoing fashion accessories for the season. Your pup is definitely cute enough without ‘em. 

Summer Dog Walking Tips

Why should you avoid the asphalt?

The same way a black t-shirt attracts the heat to your body, fabricated black surfaces like asphalt heat up faster and stay hot longer than natural ones (this is also why black-coated dogs often really struggle with the heat). Grass, dirt and natural surfaces are far more accommodating to pet paws.

Should you buy booties? Well, they can keep a pup’s pads from burning on the blacktop. But they also don’t allow for heat to escape, so booties really don’t serve as a protective cooling measure. 

The best way to gauge the safety of the ground is to observe the 7 second rule. Place your hand on the surface your dog will be walking across, and hold it there for 7 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pup! You can also consult this handy chart, for a sense of how temperature fluctuates across surfaces. 

Outdoor Heat Safety Air Concrete Temps for Dogs

Why should you NEVER leave your dog in the car?

Hundreds of pet deaths a year result from them being left in hot cars. Even if you just turned off the air conditioner a second ago, and just intend to make a quick run into a store, and even cracked the window, the temperature in cars can rise up to 20-degrees in only 10 minutes. After an hour, it can actually exceed outdoor temperatures by 40-degrees. We’re talking indoor car temperatures of 100-degrees on a 60-degree day!

The moral of the story? NEVER leave your dog alone in a car, especially on a hot day. They should always be with you, in a temperature controlled environment, when traveling. Oh, and please make sure they’re wearing a seatbelt while you’re at it.

Why should you pay attention to air quality?

Heat isn’t the only thing that can negatively impact pets. Events like wildfires can release harmful pollutants and allergens into the air, which can lead to respiratory issues and allergies, or exacerbate existing health conditions such as heart disease or asthma.

Limit your dog’s outdoor time during periods of unhealthy air quality, in order to reduce exposure. Also stick to walks, instead of more strenuous activities like hikes or play. And make sure to wipe down their face, body and paws with a damp cloth after coming inside, to remove any dust or pollutants that may have settled on their coat.

If you notice any symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or trouble breathing, immediately contact your vet.

You’re ready and set for summer!

Summer safety doesn’t have to be a summer bummer. As long as you’re mindful of your pup’s needs in the heat, there are still plenty of activities you can enjoy together this season, from camping to swimming and more!

Travel: Whether you’re talking planes, trains or automobiles, dogs can be excellent travel companions (seriously, who makes a better wingman than your dog?) Check out our article on how to safely travel with your pets.

Celebrate the great indoors: Hanging out in the air conditioning is no excuse to be a couch potato. Read on for more tips on how to make the most of your time inside, from engaging in training sessions, to playing hide and seek!  

Indulge in frozen treats: Our smoothie pupsicles are fun and easy to make, and contain fresh fruit and real yogurt for a cooling dose of probiotics. 

Preparing for hot weather is important for everyone; human and dog alike. So as long as you’re sipping on electrolyte drinks and slathering on sunscreen before heading out into the sun, just take a moment to properly prep your pup. 

For more great tips on how to keep your dog cool, check out this article from our friends at The Wildest! 


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