Summertime with your dog means lots of fun activities, and time spent together to enjoy the nice weather. But summer also comes with some risks for your dog that the rest of the year does not.
Here are some tips to keep the fun going all summer long!
1) Keep your dogs paws cool and safe
When the temperature reaches 25°, surfaces such as asphalt, metal, and cement can get so hot as to burn skin in a minute. If you’re not sure of the temperature outside, use the back of your hand to test the pavement. If you can’t keep it there for more than five seconds, neither can your dog.
Protect your pup’s feet by walking them early in the morning or late in the evening, walking on grass, or using dog booties.
2) Monitor their water consumption
Water intake is very important to monitor for dogs, especially when the temperature is high and the sun is out. The amount of water a dog needs varies by their size, age, the type of food they eat, how much exercise they get, and what medications they may be on.
But for all dogs, water intake should be increased in the heat. Too little water can lead to dehydration (see below for how to check for that). But too much water can also be problem, possibly leading to stomach bloat, electrolyte imbalances, and hyponatremia (water toxicity). A lot of larger dogs, or younger dogs may not be as skilled at regulating their water intake, and are most likely to over-indulge. Give them smaller amounts of water a time to help them regulate.
A good rule of thumb is 1/2 to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. Ask your vet for their opinion on how much water your dog needs and use your best judgment, we always believe you know your dog best.
3) Watch for signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion
As mentioned, dehydration is a big risk in the summer. To test for it, gently pinch their skin between your thumb and forefinger. In a well-hydrated dog, the skin will spring back to its original position. The skin of dehydrated dogs will take longer to fall back into place, and form a tent-like shape.
Other symptoms of dehydration and overheating include: sunken eyes, lethargy/weakness, heavy panting, loss of appetite, vomiting, and dry nose and gums.
Small dogs, dogs with dark or heavy fur, and dogs with short muzzles are at a higher risk for dehydration and overheating, and should be watched extra carefully.
If you believe your dog is overheating, bring them to your vet ASAP. While on the way there try to bring down their temperature by keeping them in a cool or shaded area, use a wet, cool towel on their paws, tummy, and legs, and if they will take any, give them small amounts of cool water.
4) Protect them from bugs and parasites
Ticks, fleas, black flies, mosquitos, heartworms, and hookworms all become more prevalent in the summer. Protect your pup by talking to your vet about possible prescriptions, and/or by avoiding areas with high populations of them.
5) Never leave your dog in a parked car
A very easy way to risk heatstroke in your dog is to leave them in your car on a hot day. Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside your car can increase to dangerous levels in minutes.
Dogs aren’t able to regulate their temperature as well humans, so while it may not seem too hot to you, it is to your dog. When in doubt, just leave them at home.
6) Supervise your dog in water
While some dogs seem like they are born for the water (think Retrievers), others are not built for it (like bulldogs, daschunds, pugs). Always supervise your dog when they are swimming or near swimming areas, and never leave them unattended.
Even the best swimmers may tire while swimming, and young pups especially may not know their limits. Bring them a life jacket if you’re unsure of their swimming abilities, or just want to play it safe.
7) Find several ways to keep them cool
A quick Google search will probably yield several innovative and fun ways to keep your dogs cool in the summer, but here are some of our favourites:
• Offer lots of shade and water access to your dog,
• Try using a kiddie pool filled with cool water and/or ice cubes,
• Give them cool surfaces to lay on (e.g. tile, wet towel, or a cooling mat),
• As mentioned before, walk your dogs in the coolest part of the day, and on grass when possible,
• Give your dog frozen treats; a filled frozen Kong works well,
• Let your dog dig a hole to help cool themselves down,
Follow these tips, and you and your doggie are bound to have a wonderful summer!