Trainer Tips–Dogs & Summer

24June 2015

Summer Tips for your Dog:

We are well into the summer and it is time to go over some basic tips for keeping your dog healthy and safe in the hot summer months.

Animals are not able to sweat like humans do.  To cool themselves, dogs pant and sweat through their paws.  This means it can take a dog much longer to cool off than his human.  In fact, an increase of just 2 or 3 degrees in a dog’s body temperature can be fatal.

Leaving your dog in a parked car:

Many people enjoy taking their dogs with them in the car and on errand runs.  However, we sometimes forget that leaving a dog in the car for only a few minutes could be very dangerous.  Since dogs cool themselves by panting, if they are left in a car and only have overheated air to breath, they are less able to cool down quickly. 

In just 15 minutes, an animal’s body temperature can climb from the normal 102.5 degrees to dangerous and possibly deadly levels.  This increase in body temperature can cause damage to the cardiovascular and nervous systems leading to dehydration.  The dog may suffer collapse, brain damage, and possible even die of heatstroke.  A dog’s body temperature should never be allowed to get over 104 degrees.

If the outside temperature is 85 degrees (which is a regular daily temperature for Hawaii), the temperature inside a car, even with the windows slightly open, can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes.  The temperature inside the car can reach up to 120 degrees after just 30 minutes.

Tips to Help you enjoy summer with your dog:

1.  Do NOT leave your dog in a parked vehicle.
As you just learned, it really is as bad as they say to leave a dog in a parked car in the hot summer sun.  Even if you are parked in the shade and have your windows slightly open, your dog can suffer serious damage in just minutes.  Go with safety first.  Leave your dog at home when you must run errands.  If you want to take the dog with you, try and plan your day so that the dog may accompany you OUTSIDE of the car.  Many business will allow you to bring your dog in for a few minutes.  It never hurts to ask!

2.  Exercise your dog in the early morning or late afternoon.
Just because it’s going to be hot does not mean your dog does not need his regular exercise.  However, take caution and exercise your dog during cooler periods of the day.  This will make your walk more enjoyable for both you and your dog and you will avoid any issues of dehydration and possible heatstroke.  If you must exercise your dog during hot periods of the day, scale back the duration and intensity of the exercise, and be sure to have plenty of water on hand to keep your dog cool and comfortable.

3.  Watch the humidity.
It’s not just the outside temperature you need to worry about; the humidity can also affect your dog’s ability to cool himself.  Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs.  This allows them to cool themselves by taking heat away from their body.  If the humidity is too high, they will be less able to cool themselves quickly.

4.  Beware of the pavement.
Sometimes we forget that we wear shoes (or sandals) and our dogs have no protection on their feet.  Pavement and asphalt temperatures rise quickly and can damage your dog’s feet easily.  Whenever possible, try and walk your dog on grass or dirt to avoid burning your pup’s paws.  If this is unavoidable, invest in some booties for your dog.  They will help protect their paws from injury and hot temperatures.

5.  Go for a Swim!
It’s summer and that means swimming.  Take your dog to the beach with you!  Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and great way to cool off for both you and your dog.  Plus you do not need to limit this activity to certain, cooler times of the day.  Just remember to bring plenty of fresh drinking water for your dog, especially if you are swimming in the ocean.  When swimming in ocean water, dog’s may become more dehydrated.  Be sure that your dog does NOT drink ocean (or lake, stream, or river) water.  Only allow your dog to drink the water you have brought.  Drinking ocean water will cause dehydration.  Drinking other types of water may lead to possible bacterial or viral infections.  Keep your dog safe and cool by only allowing him to drink the clean water you brought with you.
–Need help getting your dog to like swimming?  Check out this previous post.

6.  Pay attention to your dog.
Your dog can only “check the weather” by going outside.  When you are out and about with your dog, pay attention to any unusual behavior.  Your dog may think it is too hot or too cold for a walk right now.  Ever noticed your dog lifting his paws?  Perhaps you stopped to talk to a neighbor or look at a sign and forgot you were standing on hot pavement or asphalt.  Is your dog panting excessively and slowing down?  The dog may be in need of some water or a break from the walk in the cool shade.  Bottom line:  listen to what your dog is trying to tell you.

7.  Provide plenty of shade and water at home and away.
Whenever your pet is outside, be sure the dog has protection from the sun and heat.  This means having plenty of fresh water and shade.  Shade from trees and tarps are best because they do not obstruct the flow of air.  A dog house is NOT adequate for summer relief because it has little to no air flow.  A dog house will actually make it worse for your dog in the summer.  You may also consider adding ice cubes to your dog’s water when it is really hot.