How To Protect Your Dogs During The Summer Heat

Dog in a swimming pool - Ogden UT

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We all love spending long, sunny days outdoors with our pets, or at least watching them enjoy the outdoors they couldn’t until now. If we aren’t careful and vigilant, this can pose dangers best avoided!

The Importance of Water

It goes without saying: Water is important. Our bodies are more water than anything solid. Heck, the earth we live on is mostly water. Just because they come in different shapes than us and don’t seem to sweat in the same way we do doesn’t mean dogs need water any less.

Always make sure to leave an open and easily available source of fresh, cool clean water for your pets. If they spend a lot of time outside (hopefully when it isn’t too hot), try to make sure to keep the bowl full and placed in a shaded area.

They sweat, too, but not quite like we do. Or dogs perspire at least. In fact, a dog’s main form of heat exchange takes place through panting, not sweating on the surface of their skin like us humans, but dogs do have sweat glands on the bottoms of their paw pads. It’s never a good idea to use a muzzle that restricts your dog’s ability to open his mouth!

Don’t Leave Dogs Unsupervised Around a Pool.

Dogs, like children, can get themselves into trouble! Though many breeds today were bred to at least tolerate the water, if not work around or in it, some are better off avoiding it. Short nosed breeds, like Bulldogs and Pugs do not swim very well at all and could (and many have) easily drowned if left unattended.

It’s a good idea to provide a shallow “kiddie” pool for your dogs to cool off in. Just be sure if you want to let your pet enjoy the water along with you, you are watching him closely.

Warning: Never Leave a Dog Alone In a Hot Car!

The actual number of pets left outside to freeze to death every year during winter storms would astound you. The number of pets that suffer, trapped in hot cars during the summer, is worse. Even if they are cool when you leave, cars tend to heat up very quickly; pets should never be left alone. Air conditioning could always fail and there is a constant chance your battery could die.

Important: Grooming Warning!

Outside of the rare circumstances involving things like surgery, when patches of fur need to be cleared, you should never shave or completely cut a double coated breed’s fur. This includes dog breeds like the popular Labrador, Chow Chow, Collies, and countless others.

A Human’s Reasoning….

Less hair means less body heat, right? It almost seems like simple common sense. A human wouldn’t wear a heavy winter coat during midsummer, right? Sadly, countless dogs suffer because of this unfortunate reasoning.

The Reality

Thousands of years ago, long before man begun selective dog breeding, and even before the first ‘dogs’ are believed to have begun walking the earth about 14 thousand years ago, Grey wolves evolved thick double coats. These thick coats of fur were able to repel water, keep them warm during frigid winters, protecting them from insect bites, and even trap in cool air during the summer while offering protection from the harsh rays of the sun.

While a dog’s undercoat will shed the fur you end up seeing all over your house, their topcoat of ‘guard hairs’ will never shed or fall out. When you shave these dogs, you will undoubtedly end up cutting off those guard hairs that nature never intended to be cut. By doing this, you’ve just taking away your dog’s unique ability to trap in cool air, protection from insect bites, and resistance to dangerous rays from the sun.

On top of all this, those guard hairs will grow at a very different rate then the undercoat. Now that they have been cut, your dog’s coat will begin to grow unevenly. You may have just permanently damaged your pet’s fur, and he might never again regain the full benefits stated above for as long as he lives.

Recognize the Symptoms of Overheating in Pets

Though a dog’s visual body language cues are often easier to recognize for owners who pay attention, both our dogs and cats will show signs there is a problem just the same. As owners, it’s important we constantly watch out for these signs!

  • Excess Panting or difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy, weakness or confusion
  • Pale, purple or dry gums
  • Seizures
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Body temperature of 104+

Hot Cement and Doggie Boots

Since most people always have the option of wearing shoes or sandals during the summer, we usually don’t think about how hot the sidewalk, road or sand actually is. Since our dogs don’t usually wear shoes and are forced to constantly walk on the surfaces of their feet, hot surfaces can be a big deal. It’s always a good idea to touch your bare palm to the ground for about five seconds. If the surface of the ground seems too hot or uncomfortable to you, it is probably too hot for your pet.,

Doggie boots are offered at most pet stores for those who look, and have become so popular they are commonplace among long distance mushers to protect their dogs from the sharp ice. On top of this, doggie boots can act as a bandage, protect from hot surfaces, and offer extra slip resistant traction.

During the summer months, our dog walkers are careful not to cause undue stress on the dogs entrusted in our care. Walks are generally done earlier in the day, and we find shaded areas where your dog can walk comfortably.

Visit your veterinarian!

Parasites like fleas, ticks or heartworm become much more common once the snow finally melts and weather warms up. Though ticks can spread Lyme disease and some dogs can develop allergies to the saliva of a flea, these two usually aren’t lethal. In most cases, heartworm will cause the death of an animal if left unchecked, which is why it is so important to get a prescription for heartworm treatment from your veterinarian!

It’s always a good idea to get a regular checkup anyway, just to make sure your pet is healthy.

Away Home & Pet Care has been providing dog walking and pet sitting services to the pets of Ogden, UT and Columbia, SC for over 15 years. We are thankful to call hundreds of clients our family and want to ensure your pets are as safe as possible while providing our services.

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