When the warm weather arrives, it’s a great time to get out and play with your dog. But with the warm weather also comes some health hazards. Here are some helpful tips for the dog days of summer:
Riding in cars with dogs
Most dogs love a car ride, but remember that a parked car should be considered off-limits to your pet during the summer months. Even on a mild day, the interior of a car can heat up to dangerous temperatures in the time it takes to run a short errand. Rolling down the windows does little to keep the car cool.
If you are on a longer car trip with your pet and need to stop, find a shady parking spot and make sure someone stays behind with your pet.
Help keep your pet cool by providing lots of shade and water. You’ll find handy cool-down products at your local Pet Valu like frosty bowls and cooling beds. But there’s a reason you won’t find doggy antiperspirant at your local Pet Valu; Most of your dog’s sweat glands are located in his paws. Dogs pant to cool themselves off, so on hot days they can suffer from heat stroke. Puppies, seniors, overweight dogs and dogs with Brachycephalic faces (Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, or any other short-nosed breeds) are especially prone to heat stroke.
Know the signs of heat stroke:
• Excessive panting and difficulty breathing
• Tongue appears larger and more red than normal
• Bright red gums
If you suspect your dog may be overheating, stop all exercise immediately. Offer water and start to cool your dog off using one or all of the following methods:
- Move to a cool, air-conditioned area
- Wet the dog all over with cool water. If a body of water is nearby, wade in together.
- Apply cold packs to the stomach and groin area, cover the dog with cool, wet towels and place him in front of a fan.
- Call your vet for further instructions. If the dog experienced shock (grey lips and/or gums) or bloody diarrhea, take him to the vet as soon as he has stabilized. Do not put him into a hot car, ask someone else to start your vehicle and leave the air conditioner running.
Cats can also suffer from heat stroke, so keep them inside in a cool area with access to water.
Proper hydration is key for summer fun. A good test for dehydration is to gently pull up the skin along your dog’s back or neck a few inches. The skin should snap back into place; skin that remains tented for several seconds is a sign of dehydration. Dehydration can be dangerous, so make sure your pet always has access to fresh, clean water. You can turn an outdoor faucet or garden hose into an unlimited water bottle with the nifty Lixit Faucet Waterer.
If you are taking part in outdoor activities with your pet, always bring along water for your pets. Whether you choose a collapsible bowl or a water bottle made just for dogs is up to you.
Not all dogs are born dock divers. Just like us humans, a dog’s comfort level in the water can vary. When your dog is just learning to swim (in a pool, lake, or ocean) consider purchasing a lifejacket to help him learn to love the water. If you plan to go boating or canoeing, a lifejacket for your pet is a must-have. Look for lifejackets with a handle on top so you can scoop them out of the water quickly. It’s also a good idea to bring along some floatable toys for the ultimate summer fun experience.
Heading out on a picnic or dining in the backyard? You can turn your dog’s dinner into a cool treat; all you need is a Kong! Just mix wet and dry dog food with something freezable like peanut butter, broth, Greek yogurt, applesauce and/or Easy Treat from Kong. Add carrots, shredded cheese, broccoli, anything healthy that your dog likes, and stuff it into a Kong. Freeze the whole thing and then bring it out as you sit down to eat. You can find more recipes on Kong’s website.
The summer is a great time to get out and play with your dog. Plan ahead and pay attention to your dog and you’ll both have a fun, safe summer.