Although it's not officially summer time here yet, we've already experienced temps over 90*F. Pretty soon the hot weather will be here to stay (at least for awhile), leaving humans and their pets looking for a reprieve from the hot summer sun. Here are 10 easy ways you can help your pet beat the heat this summer.
- Water, and plenty of it: Make sure your pet has access to fresh clean water at all times. It doesn't take long for animals to start becoming dehydrated in the summer time. Make sure to bring water for your pets if you travel with them. A nice big bowl of cool water can be just as refreshing to a hot dog as it can be to a human.
- Scheduling: If you can, try to reschedule your dog's day during the summer. Walking, running, or playing during the hottest parts of the day may become uncomfortable for both you and your pooch. Temperatures are usually the coolest early in the morning or later in the evening. These would be great times to get in your dogs daily walks, or to go to the park for a game of frisbee. It's important that your dog continues to receive daily exercise, and planning it for the coolest parts of the day can make exercising more enjoyable for both you and your dog.
- Location location location: Remember to never leave your dog alone in your car! Seems like common sense, right? Even a few minutes inside a hot car can harm your dog. Just as importantly, make sure you don't leave your dog alone in other areas where he/she could overheat. That can include any type of structure without proper ventilation or air conditioning, such as a shed or garage.
- Panting and paws: Dogs sweat through their paws. Panting also helps cool them down when they are hot. Use your common sense, and don't do anything that would prevent your dog from utalyzing his/her natural cooling systems. If you must use a muzzle on your dog, make sure that it is designed so that your dog can still open his/her mouth to pant, and that he/she can still drink through the muzzle. Pets may look cute in clothes, but summer is not the appropriate time to be dressing up your pet; it will only make them hotter.
- Made in the shade: When spending time outdoors with your pets, make sure they have a nice shady area to retreat too. Although your dog may love sunbathing, too much sun exposure can cause heat stroke. If you don't have any naturally shaded areas in your yard, consider building your dog a shelter where he/she can go to get out of the sun.
- Remember your grooming: Don't forget to groom your dog in the summer time, even if you have a short haired or non-shedding breed. A clean, well groomed coat will help to dissipate heat much better than dirty or matted fur. Some dogs will benefit from a nice summer hair cut, although it's important to contact your groomer or veterinarian first as some double coated breed's coats actually function to help keep them cool and would be best left natural.
- Use sunscreen: Yes there is such thing as dog sunscreen! It only makes sense, since dogs can get sunburns. Most common areas for sunburn to occur include areas with less fur such as dog's bellies, noses, or ears. If you have a dog with very short, light colored, or no hair then they may be more prone to getting sunburns. Invest in some doggy sunblock if you are planning on taking your dog out somewhere where they will be exposed to the sun for an extended period of time. Human sunscreen, however, can contain chemicals that can be toxic to pets, so make sure you choose a sunscreen that is dog safe.
- Protect those paws: Pavement can get very hot after a few hours of having the sun beat down on it. Dogs paws are sensitive to heat, so make sure to check the temperature of the asphalt before making your dog walk around on it. If the pavement is so hot that it is uncomfortable for you to stand on it in bare feet, than it's going to also be uncomfortable for your dog.
- Cool treats: You can help your dog keep cool and have fun at the same time in a number of different ways. If your dog likes the water, you could take him/her swimming, set up a kiddie pool to play in, or turn on the sprinkler. Playing in the water is a great way for your dog to get some exercise as well as cool off. You can also give your dogs some cool treats such as kongs stuffed with frozen yogurt or peanut butter, frozen veggies to chew on, or even something as simple as an ice cube to play with.
- Stay informed: Learn the signs of overheating, dehydration, and heat stroke, so that you can recognize when your dog is having a problem coping with the temperatures. Make sure you know your vet's hours and phone number in case you need to call or bring your dog in. It's also good to know the location of at least one emergency vet in case your dog is in distress and his/her normal vet is closed.
Remember that if the temperature outside is uncomfortable to you, it's probably uncomfortable to your dog. The summer time can be a lot of fun for you and your best furry friend, as long as you make sure to be careful and stay cool.