How Does the Summer Heat Affect My Dog?
The truth is that dogs are more susceptible to the summer heat than we are. They have to wear a fur coat all year round. Whereas we can sweat to cool ourselves down, our dogs sweat only through glands on the nose and paws and try to release heat by panting. “They can’t cool themselves off like humans,” says Kelly Connolly, an issues specialist with the Humane Society of the United States. “They can’t roll down the windows of a car or turn on the air conditioning. It’s up to humans to make sure that their dogs are comfortable enough and that they can live healthily in the summer heat.”
As global warming brings more extreme temperatures to all corners of the planet, it’s important for dog owners to do what they can to keep their furry friends cool and recognize signs of discomfort.
Veterinarians say signs of overheating include panting hard. But heat stroke symptoms can include a staggered gait, rapid heartbeat, listlessness, restlessness, vomiting and a darkening of the gums and tongue. If your dog’s body temperature rises above the normal range of up to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, it may be time to take the dog to a veterinarian or animal hospital, says April Guest, DVM, of the Meyerland Animal Clinic, near Houston.
Does Hot Weather Affect Dogs Appetites?
You may notice that your dog eats less when the weather’s hot, and that is because dogs can experience a loss of appetite during the summer months. Along with this loss of appetite dogs tend to show a decrease in their energy levels as well. Take notice of your dog’s appetite level, and if it is less than normal, reduce the portion sizes or even skip the occasional meal.
How Hot is Too Hot for Dogs?
As a very general rule, dogs will do okay in temperatures up to 90 degrees. However, if the temperature gets above this then there is a risk of heat stroke occurring in your dog.
To test if it is too hot to walk your dog, first slip off your shoes and stand on the pavement with bare feet. If it’s not comfortable or too hot for your feet, then the same goes for your dog.
What Can Dogs Do in Hot Weather?
There are also steps, and extra measures you can take to keep your dog comfortable in the heat and humidity of summer. Experts suggest these tips:
Cool: Put warm (never cold) water on your dog’s paws to help them cool down.
Cooler: Try rubbing alcohol instead of water, which will cool as it evaporates from your dog’s pads.
Cool: Turn on a sprinkler outside for your dog to run through.
Cooler: Buy a $5 plastic kiddie pool for your dog. Place it in the shade and fill it with a few inches of water for splashing and fun.
Cool: Brush your dog’s coat to get the knots out and add a bit of water to help cool your pet. This will happen as the water evaporates.
Cooler: Schedule a grooming session for long-coated dogs or those with a heavy undercoat.
Cool: Fill your dog’s bowl regularly with cool water.
Cooler: Toss a few ice cubes in the water bowl so your canine has something cool to gnaw on.
Cool: Set up an old beach umbrella in the yard for your dog to lie under.
Cooler: Buy a well-ventilated dog house and keep it in the shade. Some pet stores now sell misters that attach to a doghouse and spray water throughout the day.
Cool: Plug in a portable electric fan and aim it toward your dog.
Cooler: Fill a spray bottle with water and gently mist your dog. Some may try to playfully bite the spray or stream.
Cool: Encourage your pet to lie down indoors on a tile floor, such as in a bathroom or kitchen. Ceramic tiles stay cooler than wood floors or carpet.
Cooler: Wet a towel for your dog to lie down on and place it on a surface that stays cool in the shade, like concrete, marble or tile.
Cool: Take a cool, wet towel and wipe down your dog.
Cooler: Take a cool, wet towel and wipe the inside of your dog’s ears. Body heat is dispersed in the capillaries that line your dog’s ears, making coolness there especially important. Make sure to wring out the towel first because pooled water can lead to ear infections.
Cool: If your dog will be outside for part of the day, provide a large bowl for water that can’t be tipped over, leaving your dog without it.
Cooler: Place that large bowl of water under a slowly dripping spigot to constantly replenish the supply with cooler H2O.
Cool: Instead of playing outside in the heat, toss a ball for your dog indoors.
Cooler: Plan your playtime or your daily walk for early in the morning or at dusk. “The odds are your pet will enjoy it a lot more,” Connolly says, “and so will you.
Can Hot Weather Make Dogs Sick?
The hot and sunny stretches of summer can bring with them a whole set of health concerns for your dog. From parasite-spread illnesses to heatstroke and paw problems caused by walking on hot surfaces, a wide range of summer hazards can plague canines.
Should You Walk Dogs in Hot Weather?
During hot weather you should plan your playtime or your daily walk for early in the morning or at dusk. “The odds are your pet will enjoy it a lot more,” Connolly says, “and so will you.
Chasing sticks or a Frisbee, or even a long walk, can put extra strain on a dog during peak sun times, so best to avoid doing activities such as these during the heat of the day.
What Temperature is It Safe to Walk a Dog?
Generally it is probably safe to walk your dog in temperatures up to 68 degrees. Temperatures above this puts dogs at risk of heat stroke. Some dogs will be more susceptible than others of developing heat stroke so keep an eye on your dog for signs he is overheating.
Summer Don’ts for Dog Care
There are several summer hazards dog owners should be aware of. Here are five things you should never do with your dog:
Don’t Leave Your Dog in a Parked Car
Even with the window cracked, temperatures can rise up to 30 degrees in the space of a few minutes, says Connolly. “Pets are in danger of heat stroke when the indoor temperature reaches 110 degrees,” she says. “Even when it’s 70 degrees outside, it is going to be suffocating in a quick amount of time in that car.”
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.
Don’t Tie Your Dog Up Outside in the Blazing Sun
Our canine pals need an escape during sunny summer months, so if you plan to let your pet outside, make sure that it can find shelter under a tree shade, a porch or other structure. The heat is not only a danger to your dog, but your pet can also become sunburned if it’s a thin-coated or wire-haired breed.
Don’t Put Sunscreen Made for Humans on Your Dog
Chemicals in some sunscreens can be harmful if pets ingest them, says Dr. Guest. What dog won’t try to lick off the gooey white substance if given the option? Pet stores sell sunscreens formulated especially for dogs.
Don’t Exercise Your Dog Under the Midday Sun
Chasing sticks or a Frisbee, or even a long walk, can put extra strain on a dog during peak sun times. “The heat of the day can take a toll particularly on dogs who are overweight, older or who have certain diseases,” Dr. Guest says.
Don’t Walk Your Dog on Asphalt Unless You’ve Tested the Temperature
A dog’s paw pads are susceptible to burns, says Elaine Acker, CEO of Pets America, a nonprofit animal rescue organization. “Slip off your shoes and stand on the pavement with bare feet first,” she advises. “If it’s not comfortable for you, it’s not going to be comfortable for your dog either.”
Here’s How You Can Keep Your Pet Safe in the Summer Sun.
“If we’re hot sitting outside in T-shirts and shorts, our dogs are certainly going to be hot sitting outside in a heavy fur coat,” says Adam Goldfarb, director of the Pets at Risk program for the Humane Society of the United States. Be mindful of what type of dog you have and how old it is, these factors may determine your dog’s tolerance for heat. Older dogs, puppies and northern breeds with heavy coats may have a harder time withstanding heat. Heatstroke symptoms can include; panting, drooling, restlessness, red tongue, vomiting, diarrhoea and breathing distress.
What to Do if Your Dog Has Heatstroke:
- Walk or exercise your dog in the early morning or early evening, when it’s cooler out.
- Never leave your dog in the car. A car can heat up within several minutes to more than 100 F, causing heat stroke or even death, says Lisa Peterson, communications director of the American Kennel Club.
- Don’t shave your dog’s coat during the summer. “A dog’s coat helps insulate them from the heat in the summertime,” says Peterson. Without their protective coat, dogs can also get sunburned.
Fleas and Ticks
Some dogs have flea allergies that make them scratch until their skin is raw, or in extreme cases, until they bleed. Ticks are even more dangerous because they carry a variety of diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis and Ehrlichia. Symptoms of tick-borne diseases can range from the fever and swollen joints that afflict Lyme sufferers to possible death, as in the case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever victims.
What to Do if Your Dog has Fleas and Ticks:
- Find out from your veterinarian what type of anti-flea and tick medication is best for your dog.
- Check your dog for ticks as soon as it comes in from the outdoors, since ticks can cling to its hair. If a tick bites your dog, remove it as soon as possible. (Use a blow dryer on the cool setting to help part the hair, Peterson recommends.)
- Control fleas by vacuuming regularly — particularly the areas where your dog lies — to remove any adult fleas or eggs.
- For more information on Fleas and Ticks check out our article ‘The Most Common Diseases that Can Affect Your Dog During Summer’.
The pads on your dog’s paws are very sensitive, so the heat on concrete, asphalt, beach sand or other surfaces can be a big problem during the summer. The pads can burn, dry and crack.
What to do if You Dog Has Burnt Paws:
- Walk your dog on the grass, Peterson recommends. That way, your pet doesn’t have to deal with the intense heat of the pavement.
- Try doggie booties. Some pet stores sell booties for your dog to wear in winter, but these shoes may also help protect your dog’s paws during the summer.
- Apply a paw balm to your dog’s paws regularly to help keep them moist and prevent cracking, which is painful and can increase the risk of infection.
Wherever your family goes during the summer, be it the beach or backyard pool, be aware of the risks these bodies of water hold for your pooch. Dogs may drink from stagnant ponds and contract intestinal ailments, such as giardia. Canines may also jump into a lake or pool and panic when they realize they don’t know how to get out. What’s more, pools contain chlorine, which can be harmful to your dog’s health.
What to do to Keep Your Dog Safe Around Water:
- If you have a pool, consider using dog-friendly pool chemicals, which are now commercially available.
- Keep a life preserver on hand in case your dog jumps in. Dog life vests are also available.
- Don’t leave your pooch alone when there is an open body of water, as you wouldn’t leave a child in a similar situation. Make sure fresh drinking water is available at all times.
Dogs can pick up diseases, such as rabies, from infected animals from the wild, including bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, cattle and coyotes. Rabies is transmitted through saliva, usually after a bite. The virus affects an animal’s central nervous system, and common symptoms are erratic movements, partial paralysis and unprovoked aggression.
What to do to Keep Your Dog Safe From Wild Animals:
- Keep your dog’s vaccinations against rabies up to date. “It’s likely that your city or county requires your dog to be vaccinated anyway,” Peterson says.
- Don’t let your dog roam free and unsupervised, particularly when you are in areas where Rover is more likely to encounter wildlife.
Supervision is the key to summer dog safety. “Be mindful of where your dog is,” Peterson says. “If you let them off the leash, keep them in visual contact.” That way, the “dog days” might just be some of the best days of the year that you and your dog will enjoy.