The Dog Daily: Safety
By Margaret Bonham for The Dog Daily
Is your pup a cool customer or a hot dog this summer? You can still have fun with your dog and be mindful of the temperatures when the thermometer hits those triple digits. Some things to keep in mind:
- Dogs don't keep cool the same way we do. They don't sweat (except their paw pads); they pant. Because their cooling systems are inefficient, they're more likely to overheat. Anything that restricts airflow (hot, stuffy areas) and breathing (tight collars, head halters, muzzles) can cause a dog to overheat faster.
- Keep fresh water available. Bring a portable pet canteen and bowl whenever you leave the house. Encourage your dog to drink often.
- Never leave a dog in a car in the summertime -- even with the windows down.
- Other enclosed areas can be as dangerous as a car. Don't leave your dog in the tent while camping -- it can become just as hot under the sun as in a closed car.
- Fill up two or more 2-liter bottles with water and freeze them. You can put them in your dog's crate while traveling for a quick cool-off and use the melted cold water for drinking. You can also use cooling mats in the crate (they are available through some pet supply retailers).
- You need to be the grown-up and decide when your dog has had enough physical activity. Make him lie down frequently for cool-down rests, even if he seems ready to play all day.
- If your dog is too hot, a quick spritz-down with a spray bottle filled with water or a hose might help keep your pup cool.
- Use portable, battery-powered fans to keep air circulating over your dog and provide a cool breeze. (Keep the fan away from inquisitive noses!)
- Dehydration occurs when your dog isn't getting enough water. You can check with a simple skin snap test on his shoulders or his lips. Pull the loose skin up between two fingers. If it doesn't snap back into place right away, but seems to "melt" back, he's dehydrated.
- Signs of heat exhaustion include red gums, excessive panting, looking tired, dehydration, and excessive thirst. Cool your dog off with a spray of water or cool towels on his head and chest, and give him plenty of water.
- Signs of heat stroke include pale gums, lethargy, extreme dehydration, and a very high temperature. This is an emergency! Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.
Remember to have fun and watch out for those dog days of summer!
Margaret Bonham an award-winning writer and pet expert, has written several books on dogs, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pet Health and Nutrition and A Dog's Wisdom.
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