The dog days of summer can be uncomfortable enough for us humans. But imagine how your poor dog feels. With normal body temperatures that run warmer than ours, and a built-in fur coat, summer can be downright unbearable for our canine companions. Using common sense can go a long way to keeping your dog cool and comfortable.
Warm weather safety tips for your dog
- Groom him for summer: A shorter summer clip is fine but resist the urge to give your dog a buzz cut. A dog’s fur is part of his natural insulation system that keeps warm air in during winter and hot air out during summer. Also, shaving your dog’s coat too short can put him at risk for sunburn.
- Show him the shade: If your dog lives outside or spends a lot of time there, teach him to do a “down/stay” in a cool spot. It may also stop him from digging under bushes.
- Keep his bed cool: Remove cushiony bedding from your dog’s crate or bed. He may be more comfortable lying on the cooler bottom rather than on blankets or fleece.
- Provide plenty of fresh water: You’re not the only one who enjoys a nice drink of refreshing water on a hot summer day.
- Save exercise sessions for early morning or after the sun goes down: Your dog will appreciate the cooler temperatures–and so will you!
- Think inside the house: Keep your dog indoors when you go out for more than an hour. If possible, restrict him to rooms with either air conditioning or a fan.
- Put a lid on it: This is the time of year when dogs are tempted to drink the cold water from toilet bowls. So keep the lid down and try to avoid chemical cleaners and fresheners that stay in the bowl.
- Check the ground during walks: Blacktop can get scorchingly hot for your dog’s pads. Touch the surface yourself–if it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for your dog.
- Give your dog space: Dogs, like people, can get grumpy when it’s hot. Remind young children that their hugs may not be appreciated on stifling days.
- Hose him down: Try a gentle spray of cool water. Keep in mind it may take you a few tries before your pooch enjoys the experience. If all goes according to plan, he’ll feel happy and refreshed once he’s all nice and wet.
- Watch out for symptoms of heat stress or stroke: If you see that your dog is panting heavily, salivating or foaming, these may be the first sign of a heat-related problem. The hall mark of heat-stroke is severe central nervous system (brain) disturbance and is often associated with multi-organ dysfunction. Get your dog to a cool location, provide small drinks of cold water, and, if he doesn’t improve within a few minutes, contact your veterinarian.