Summer is finally here. The weather is beautiful, and you want to take your dog everywhere with you. Dogs love to ride in the car, go to the park, and just hang out outside. It’s a great way to bond with your dog and add some excitement to his life, but beware of hidden dangers lurking in the summer fun for your beloved friend.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can strike dogs more easily than humans, and can lead to a veterinary emergency. Dogs do not sweat effectively and must rely on panting to cool down their body temperature, so they can overheat very easily. Do not allow your dog to exercise strenuously during the midday heat, and take frequent breaks when you are playing. Be sure to provide plenty of water, although you should not allow your dog to drink too much immediately before or after exercise. Too much water right before or after activity can lead to bloat, a potentially fatal disease that occurs most often in large, deep-chested dogs.
Signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include a dog who is sluggish and unresponsive. The gums may be bright red and your dog will probably be panting excessively. If you see these signs, check your dogs temperature rectally. If it is over 105°F, this is a heat emergency and you should call a veterinarian immediately. In the meantime, you can cool your dog by wetting him with a hose or placing cool, wet blankets over him. The most common cause of heat stroke is leaving your dog in an enclosed car. NEVER leave your dog in a car with closed windows for any amount of time!
Although you may not realize it, dogs are susceptible to sunburn just like humans. Of course, it is not a big problem in dogs with thick, dark coats. Dogs with thin coats, light-colored coats, or dogs who have recently been shaved can easily burn in the sun. If your dog is at risk, be aware of his exposure to the sun. You may want to discuss with your veterinarian if you should use sunblock or if you should limit your dog’s exposure to the sun.
Your dog’s footpads are also very sensitive to the heat. Hot pavement can cause severe burns on your dog’s pads. On extremely hot days, try to avoid walking on the pavement with your dog, and rinse his paws in cool water when you get home.
Summer fun can be had for everyone as long as you are aware of the potential dangers and avoid them. With a little caution, you and your dog can have fun in the sun all summer long!