Picture yourself on a sweltering summer day in a long winter coat. Are you hot yet? Are you itchy or thirsty? Are you desperately searching for shade?
Now picture your dogs on that same summer day. And you’ll have some idea of how THEY feel.
Protecting them from the hot sun, hot air and hot ground is essential to keeping them safe outside. All it requires is common sense and some advance planning.
Here are some suggestions:
For dogs with particularly thick or heavy coats, have a groomer lightly trim them back.
Guard against sunburn by applying either a child’s SPF 45 sun block or a specially formulated animal sunscreen to the tips of your dog’s ears, the nose and the belly.
Whether on a porch, patio or lawn, create a shaded area using planters or shrubbery.
Set up a makeshift canopy using a blanket draped across two chairs.
Limit your dog’s outdoor exercise.
Take your walks early in the morning or when the sun is setting. If the day’s particularly hot and humid, forego your walks altogether.
Turn on a garden sprinkler and let your dog run through it or fill a specially constructed doggy pool with water for him to lie in or splash about in.
Keep your dog’s water bowl filled, cool, and free of floating debris.
Avoid hot asphalt, which can quickly burn the pads of your dog’s paws. Place the back of your hand on the sidewalk or road pavement. If you can’t keep your hand there for seven seconds, then it’s too hot for your dog.
Wherever possible, walk your dog on the grass instead.
NEVER leave your dog unattended in the car. Whether in the shade with the windows cracked or with the motor running and the air conditioning on, your car can become a deathtrap within minutes.
Watch your dog for signs of heat exhaustion. Because dogs don’t sweat, their only way of cooling down is by panting or releasing heat through their paws.
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include exaggerated panting, excessive salivation, a vacant expression, restlessness or listlessness, trembling, and skin that’s hot to the touch.
If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs, get him into the shade as quickly as possible. Give him cool water to drink and either hose him down, cover him with cool, damp cloths or put him in a bathtub filled with cool water.
If your dog’s condition worsens, seek immediate medical attention.
To be a responsible pet owner is to be an informed pet owner.
The list of safety rules may seem long, but the hot days of summer are even longer.