As the temperature climbs, and the dog days of summer approach, keep these five tips in mind to ensure your furry friends are cool, comfortable, and safe.
#1: Don’t leave your dog in the car
Letting your dog ride along while you run errands is tempting, but the car can quickly become a hot death trap during the summer, despite being parked in the shade, or a window left cracked. On an 85-degree day, the inside of a parked car can reach 102 degrees in only 10 minutes, and 120 degrees after 30 minutes, putting your dog at risk for life-threatening heatstroke.
#2: Make outdoor activities safe for pets
Dogs may not know when to stop walking, running, or playing until it is too late, and they are already overheated or suffering from heatstroke, so you need to make good choices for them. Avoid prolonged outdoor time during the heat of the day, and take advantage of the cooler temperatures during the early morning and evening for more strenuous activity. Whenever your pet is outside, ensure they have free access to drinking water and shade, to help them stay cool. Take frequent breaks to allow your dog to rest or drink water if you are hiking, walking, or playing. Dogs may enjoy water activities during the summer heat, but should be supervised around pools and bodies of water, as not all dogs are good swimmers, or able to get out of a pool if they fall in. Consider using a doggie life jacket if you plan to take your dog out on the water in a boat or canoe, or want an added layer of safety in the pool.
#3: Recognize the signs of heatstroke in pets
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Panting or increased respiratory rate
- Staggering or weakness
- Bloody or black diarrhea
- Increased body temperature
- Increased heart rate
If you notice these signs, immediately bring your pet to the Animal Clinic at our Council Bluffs or Glenwood locations, or the nearest veterinary emergency clinic. You can quickly wet your pet with cool water and run the air conditioning in your car to start the cooling process on the way to the clinic, but do not immerse your pet in water, or use ice water or ice for cooling, as this could cause further organ damage. Heatstroke can be fatal, so prompt, aggressive veterinary treatment is critical to give your pet the best chance to survive.
#4: Schedule a summertime wellness appointment for your pet
Summer is the prime time for disease-causing parasites, such as fleas and ticks, to take up residence on your pet, or heartworm-carrying mosquitoes to bite your dog. During a summer wellness visit, our Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs team can find these pesky parasites, and recommend the parasite preventives best suited for your pet. At the visit, our veterinarians will also perform a thorough physical exam, to detect any underlying medical conditions that could make your pet less heat tolerant, and address other risk factors for heatstroke. Pets who are young, old, or overweight, or who have a short muzzle, or a dark or thick coat, may have more difficulty keeping themselves cool, so our veterinarians may recommend extra precautions for these animals.
#5: Avoid walking your dog on hot pavement
Since most of us wear shoes outside in the summer, we can easily forget that the pavement can get hot enough to burn pets’ feet. When the air temperature is 77 degrees, the pavement can reach 125 degrees, and at 87 degrees, the pavement may be 143 degrees. If you can hold the back of your hand against the pavement for at least seven seconds, it should be cool enough for your pet to walk on. If not, consider walking on the grass where the ground is cooler, waiting until a cooler part of the day to walk, or using protective booties made for walking on hot pavement. If you return from a summer walk, and your dog starts limping or excessively licking their paws, or their paw pads appear blistered, make an appointment with our veterinary team, as your dog’s paws may be burned.
Summer can be full of fun and good memories for you and your furry friend, if you follow these hot weather tips. If you have any questions about summer safety for your pet, or would like to schedule a summertime wellness visit, our excellent veterinary team is here to help. Give us a call to ensure the dog days of summer are doggone delightful.