Safety Tips for the Summer Heat

Keeping Your Dog Safe from the Heat All Summer Long

Hot fun in the summer means pool parties, barbecues and good times with family and friends. It also ushers in conditions that can be dangerous for pets. Please note that the heat-related death of a beloved pet is a tragic yet preventable situation. Although there are no statistics on how many dogs die every year from heat exposure, estimates suggest that there are several hundred pets that perish every summer. The loss of a dearly loved pet is difficult enough when death is expected and the passing is painless. But losing a canine member of the family to an avoidable case of heatstroke is an event many pet owners never forgive themselves for. Your dog may love to “go for a ride” but leaving him at home is the responsible choice when the weather is warm.

Leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle in extreme heat or cold is also considered animal cruelty and it is a criminal offense in 14 states and several municipalities. Regardless of any laws or ordinances, however, it is just common sense to protect an animal left in dire conditions. And each of us has a duty to report it to law enforcement or animal control.

Signs and Symptoms of Heatstroke

On an 85-degree day it takes only 10 minutes for the interior of a parked car to climb to 102 degrees. In a half hour, it can reach 120 degrees. In the hot Texas summer, outside temperatures are often significantly higher than 85 degrees. Leaving windows partially open doesn’t help to cool things down inside a vehicle. Dogs also have a higher body temp than people and they don’t cool down as efficiently. In a very short period of time, an overheated dog can suffer critical damage to her brain, heart, liver and nervous system.

Symptoms of overheating include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Glazed eyes
  • Vomiting and bloody diarrhea
  • Bright or dark red tongue, gums
  • Staggering
  • Elevated body temperature (104ºF and up)
  • Weakness, collapse
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Excessive drooling
  • Unconsciousness

Dog owners can take sensible precautions to keep their pets from getting overheated. When it’s hot and it comes to running errands in the car, leave them at home.

Other tips to keep your dog safe from the heat

Although hot vehicles pose danger conditions for dogs in the summertime, other considerations are also important.

Dogs can dehydrate very quickly, so make sure yours has plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times. If he’ll be outside on warm days for any length of time, he should have access to complete shade.

Give your dog a shorter summer ‘do. A long-coated dog can be shaved to a one-inch length to help him weather the hot temperatures. Don’t go any shorter than an inch, though, because his fur protects him from the sun. If you don’t want to cut your dog’s coat, regular brushing, bathing and grooming will help prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

Exercise your pup early in the morning or after the sun goes down, during the coolest parts of the day. Stay in the shade if possible, and if it’s 90 degrees or hotter, your dog should be kept indoors.

Play in the sprinkler with your dog or hose him down with cool water if he must stay outside and can’t avoid temperatures over 90 degrees. Make sure your dog knows how to swim before giving her access to a pool, pond, lake or other body of water. Not all dogs, even breeds known for their affinity for water, instinctively know how to swim. Introduce your pup to water gradually.

If you take your dog boating she should wear her own floatation device. Even if she’s an excellent swimmer, if she should get injured or worn out from exertion, the floatation device will keep her in sight until she can be rescued. If your dog doesn’t listen to the ‘come’ command, always attach a long rope to her life vest so you can ‘reel’ her in.

Don’t overdo exercise or play sessions, regardless of the time of day. Over exertion in hot weather — even after dark — can bring on heat-related health problems.

Don’t allow your dog (or cat) on the hot pavement – it can burn his paws and the heat rising from the concrete or asphalt can quickly overheat your low-to-the-ground pet.

Keep your pet safe from toxic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides commonly used during the summer months.

Take care to keep your pet away from the potential food and drink hazards of your backyard barbeques, and remember to keep them safe at home during fireworks displays. Many animals suffer extreme fear from the noise, and the explosives themselves can be potentially hazardous to a curious pet.

Help your pet avoid summer pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoesHeartworm prevention is a must as the treatment for heartworms is long, expensive and extremely difficult for your pet. There are a variety of safe, proven methods to both prevent and eradicate summertime pest infestations. Be prepared!

And, of course, never leave your dog alone in a parked car on a warm day. Your car or truck cab can become a furnace very quickly, even with the windows open. Leave him where he’s cool, hydrated, and eagerly awaiting your return.

Information for this article was taken from:

Swash LabsPet Safety