Summer is supposed to be the time of year where man and animal alike can spend more time outside, enjoying and taking in the time with family and friends. But summer can be very uncomfortable, and even dangerous, for your pets. In the past week, there's been an influx of tragic pet deaths in the news stemming from the ever rising summer temperatures. It's prudent to remember that there are ways that we, as pet owners, can protect our animals from the sweltering heat.
If you are out and about with your animal, it's important to remember that they can dehydrate as quickly as we can; Sometimes quicker. Every animal is different when it comes to their needs in high temperature situations, so it's important to figure out where your animal lies on that spectrum. Dogs with darker coats absorb more heat than dogs with lighter or white coats. Additionally, certain dogs with heavy, long coats or double coated dogs, can retain much more heat than one with fine, short hair. Dogs with thick coats should be brushed regularly to help with coat density, but never shaved. Shaving exposes them to direct UV rays, and can render the dog at risk for skin cancer. Overweight and elderly dogs are also at higher risk for dehydration. If you take your dog out in high temperatures, always carry water so that you can keep your animal hydrated well. Signs of dehydration include drooling, lethargy, and bloodshot eyes. If you can pinch your dogs scruff lightly, and it does not immediately snap back, then your dog is most likely dehydrated.
Cement and Asphalt Hurt
A human would never willingly walk barefooted onto sun-scorched, black asphalt for extended periods of time, so why should they expect their animals to? Even if it's begun to cool off, always remember that streets absorb the broiling midday temperatures, and retain it well into the evening. If you run or walk with your dog, try to help them avoid ultra hot surfaces by allowing them to run in the grass, or by investing in specially made dog boots to protect their sensitive padding. Extended periods on hot asphalt or cement can cause bleeding, cracked pads that are very painful to your animal.
Parked cars become ovens
Animals left in parked cars is the number one cause of heat related death in animals. Most people do not consider that even if the temperatures are mild outside, they can become deadly inside of a vehicle, especially if the vehicle is dark in color. Eighty degree temperatures can, and do, promptly rise to temperatures of 100 degrees or more, and will kill an animal. You would not leave your human child in a parked vehicle, so please do not leave your pets. As a general rule of thumb, if you cannot take your animal inside where you are going, it is safest to leave them at home, where they can remain cool and ultimately, alive.
Dogs love creature comforts
While it's always recommended to keep your animals inside during periods of extreme weather, it's understood that it's not always feasible. If your dog must be outside when the weather is very warm, make sure that they have ways to cool themselves off. Give them plenty of shade to rest during the height of the day. If you do not have trees, it's easy enough to build an awning with wooden pallets and particle board that your dog may retreat to in order to avoid becoming overheated. Dog houses are another option, though they may be too closed off from free flowing air to avoid higher internal temperatures.
Another way to let your animal cool off during the dog days of summer is to give them a small wading pool to cool off in. Change the water every day to avoid mosquitoes and other pests taking up residence in the water, and to help keep it cool for them. If you are unable, or unwilling, to provide these comforts, do not be surprised if your dog begins to dig up your favorite flower garden. Dogs will often dig down to the soft, cool dirt beneath the nearly superheated surfaces so that they may cool off in the soil. If you don't mind a few holes in your yard, then by all means, let them continue. Just make sure they aren't digging close to your fences, to avoid escape.
Dogs cannot speak our language, and are unable to tell their guardians that they may be thirsty, or overheated, so it's our job to make sure we can avoid this happening. Be innovative. Look for creative ways to keep your animal safe from the heat of summer, and find what works for you. Pet owners owe their fur-children this much.