Here comes the sun. To warm our cold bones, push us into the pool, and gather us on the patio for a cookout. Soon, we’ll be complaining about its savage heat. And it’s not just us it affects, but our animals as well. As their keepers, we’re responsible for their safety and happiness at all times. During the hot months of summer, we must pay special attention.
The main takeaway here is this: In anything, if you wouldn’t suffer it, don’t allow your dog to suffer it.
The number one, absolute must-have for dogs in any season, especially summer, is free and constant access to clean water. It’s as vital to them as it is to us. To keep your dog happy and hydrated, make sure he has clean water at all times in a bowl that he cannot tip over and spill.
Dehydration does to dogs the same thing it does to humans. Think thirst, then heat stroke, organ failure, and finally death. Signs of dehydration are sticky gums, sunken in eyeballs, and lethargy. If your dog has been without water and shows these symptoms, get to the vet right away. There, they will administer IV fluids in attempt to get your pup right again.
Woo, those hellacious UV rays! When we’ve had enough sun-beating, we retreat indoors or find shade for a break. Imagine having a thick layer of fur and no access to a cool spot on a hot day. Sucky, right? At the least, dogs need a place in the shade under which they can chill out. In extreme heat, shade may not suffice. Put your dogs inside with air conditioning on.
An overheated dog can easily suffer from heatstroke, a deadly condition. Excessive panting, staggering, and unconsciousness are signs of heatstroke. It can happen quickly and needs treatment immediately. As with anything else, dogs can’t communicate in easy terms that something is happening to them. It’s up to us to pay attention and take action.
Another way sun damages your dog is sunburn. It affects them like us. Seared skin hurts and ups the risk of cancer. Look for redness on exposed areas (tummy, nose, bald areas). Treat with aloe for comfort and healing (don’t let him eat it). In more severe cases, seek help from a vet. Prevent sunburns on sensitive areas with dog-specific sunscreen, or ask your vet which human sunscreens are safe for pets (some have ingredients toxic to dogs).
During hot months, exercise in the early morning or in the evening hours when the days are cooler. A dog who is excited to play, run, and walk may not show signs of overheating until it’s too late. They will play until they drop, so again, it’s up to us to take measures. Beware of hot sidewalks and asphalt. They can cause severe burns. If you wouldn’t step barefoot onto that hot concrete, don’t take your dog out on it.
I don’t see why anyone would leave their dog in a car at any time of year. It’s our responsibility to know if pets are welcome in the places we frequent. Leave your dog at home, hire a sitter, leave him with a family member, just don’t leave your dog in the car.
On hot days, countless dogs suffer in hot cars. Leaving the window cracked does nothing in the way of protection. Don’t believe me? Go sit in your hot car for a few minutes with the window cracked. Don’t like it? Stifled? It’s the same for your dog. It’s an often-deadly situation that is 100% preventable. If you love your dog enough to have him by your side at all times, love him more by leaving him at home instead of in the car.
Make summer fun and happy for both you and your pets. Keep them safe, hydrated, and cool. Pay attention to them, get help immediately when needed, and never ever leave them in a vehicle. There’s no reason your pet has to get sick or dead because of heat.