The summertime brings about hopes of warm days, cookouts, trips to the beach or lake, picnics, and a whole list of other fun things to do outside. If you have a dog, you may want to make them part of what you’re doing as often as possible. Here are some things to be mindful of with the summer temperatures:
Direct sunlight can overheat a dog and lead to heatstroke. Dogs with dark coats – black or dark brown – heat up faster than dogs with lighter coat colors – white or light gray. Take this into consideration when out in the sun. Find a shady spot and provide some water for your dog so they can regulate their temperature as needed.
Recognize signs of overheating: Heavy panting, thick drool coming from their mouth, dry or bright red gums, vomiting, diarrhea, or wobbly legs. A dog’s normal body temperature generally ranges 101⁰ to 102.5 degrees. A dog is overheated if their temperature is 103 degrees or higher and in a state that could lead to heat stroke if not dealt with quickly and effectively.
To quickly bring down your dog’s temperature, carry the dog to a shady spot. Do not have the dog walk because this can exacerbate their condition quickly. Soak a towel in lukewarm tap water (not cold to avoid shock) and place it over the dog. Give priority to cooling off the dog’s extremities such as their paws, stomach, and armpits (front and hind legs).
If you have a small pool or bathtub, fill it with a few inches of cool water (again not cold water) and have the dog stand or lie down in this. (The dog’s head should be above water.) Offer a small amount of water, but do not force feed the water on the dog if they cannot drink it on their own. Instead, wet the lips, gums, and tongue with water squeezed from a facecloth or clean towel.
Ways to avoid heatstroke:
Never leave your pet in the car unattended. Even if the air conditioner is on and it will be only a minute before you are back, too many unforeseen things can happen that could be disastrous. The easiest solution is to prepare ahead of time so that you have everything you need. If you cannot do this ahead of time, consider driving home first and dropping off your dog, then make a separate trip to get what you need.
When the temperature outside reaches 80 degrees or higher, the asphalt can reach a temperature of 130 or 140 degrees. This will quickly burn the pads of your dog’s paws and put them in extreme pain. A simple way to tell if the asphalt is too hot is to place your bare hand or foot on it. If you cannot hold it there for more than five seconds, then it is too hot for your dog to walk on.
On days like this, walk your dog in the early morning or late, late in the evening when the heat of the day is not radiating from the ground.
Following these guidelines is a way for us to share our summer with our furry best friends safely while allowing us all to enjoy the longer days together.
Jill Page is a resident of Hull and owner of Tiny-Paws Dog Walking and Pet Sitting, also located in Hull. You can visit her at www.tiny-paws.com for more information.