Ringo loves the sun. He jumps onto the spot on the couch that gets a bright ray of morning, he lays on the deck in the middle of the day, he can’t wait to go outside, even when Daddy’s dreading opening the door to an un-air-conditioned world.
But, sun-worshiper that he is, even he has his limits. Within a few minutes, he may start panting heavily and move into a shaded area, or jump off the couch and find a cooler patch of carpet on which to collapse. After just a little exposure to heat, Ringo wilts and turns into a bit of a slug, which is pretty how much I react to it, too. Heat can be exhausting.
Which is why now is the perfect time to review some steps we can take to make sure our little friends are as comfortable and safe as can be, while enjoying the the summer sun.
Remember that in just a few minutes… your car, even parked in the shade with the windows open, can become lethally hot during warmer weather. Leaving your dog in a parked vehicle is never a safe option.
Take your walks during earlier morning or evening hours. Mid-day summer asphalt can hurt, even burn, your dog’s paws.
Keep clean, cool water nearby at all times. Pets require more of it during hot weather.
Know that there are certain types of dogs who withstand heat less readily than others. Obese dogs and short-nosed dogs like pugs and bulldogs are very sensitive to heat.
Watch for over-exertion. Your dog may love running and jumping, but be watchful of this activity when the temperature rises.
Watch for vigorous panting, inability to move and disorientation during hotter weather. This could indicate heat stroke, and if this happens you’ll want to move your dog into shade; apply cold, wet rags on your dog’s body (make sure you cool off the foot pads and head) and offer your dog cool water to drink. Call your vet right away!
Dogs can get sunburned, just like us. There are dog-specific sunblocks available, and some people even use baby-sunblocks which are formulated for sensitive skin (my neighbor’s veterinarian advised her to use that for her chihuahua’s pale, hairless ears) but know that there is no substitute for shade. Even better is cool, indoor shade. If your dog can have access to comfortable shelter during hot days, you’re doing your animal a loving, caring favor.
There are countless more ways to make sure your dog is happy and protected from hot weather. Do your research and take the heat off their summer fun. You and your animals will be grateful for it!
ASPCA published an alert on July 28th – read more about “You can help Pets in Hot Cars” here