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How to Keep Your Pets Safe in Hot Weather

Posted: 6/26/2011 | Updated: 6/26/2011

How to Keep Your Pets Safe in Hot Weather

As the hot, humid days of summer approach, it is important to remember that our pets need our protection to stay healthy in the heat. Dogs can suffer from too much heat and sun just as humans do without the right protection. Dogs can get sunburned, overheated, and dehydrated if left in the heat unprotected too long. Prolonged heat exposure can even lead to heatstroke. Here are some simple steps you can take to help your pet stay happy and healthy during the hot summer months.

At the Lake or Beach

Swimming is always a great way to cool down on hot summer days and for most dogs a day at the lake or beach is just the answer to keeping cool. Some dogs are not able to swim or are afraid of the water. Keep in mind that although your dog might chase a stick that is thrown into the water, he may not be able to get out of the water safely. Start with shallow water to see if the lake or the beach is a good idea for you and your dog during the heat.

In the Car, Don't Go Far

Going for a ride is generally a treat for your canine companion, but in high temperatures you will need to be prepared to keep your pet cool and well hydrated. Going for a ride in the air-conditioning of your car might be great to cool both of you down, but if by chance your car breaks down, your pet may start to get overheated quickly if you aren't prepared. Bring plenty of cold water and ice with you on your trip if you can. Keep the air-conditioning on at all times when both of you are riding in the car.

If you find yourself stranded on the side of the road, you will have plenty of cool water to keep your pet from developing problems. Keep your pet in the shade if possible and pour cool ice water on their coat if you have enough left.

Even if you need to go into a store for a few minutes, do not leave your dog in the car on hot, humid days. The temperature in a car rapidly rises, even when the windows are rolled down and your pet will quickly overheat if you leave them in the car unattended. If you must take your dog out on hot days, bring a leash and tie them in a shady spot with a bowl of water before going into any store.

Sunscreen is for Dogs Too

Although dogs have a protective coat of fur, their skin is still sensitive to the burning UV rays of the sun. If you are going to be in the sun for any length of time during a hot summer day, put sunscreen on your dog to keep their skin safe from the damaging rays. Talk to your veterinarian if you are not sure what product to use on your dog.

Fur Coats Add to the Problem

You would get pretty hot if you wore a heavy fur coat during a humid summer day and your dog does too. Long, thick fur keeps body heat in and if a dog's coat is too long they will have a difficult time staying cool in the summer. Consider getting your dog's coat groomed for the summer months but don't shave them completely and expose their skin to the hot sun. A professional grooming is best for the summer months to ensure that it is done correctly.

Dogs Don't Wear Shoes

Dogs release heat through the pads on their paws and through their mouth when they pant. Taking your dog for a walk on a hot summer day during the heat of the day is not recommended. Your dog will be feeling the effects of a hot sun beating down on their heavy coat and the heat from the ground at the same time. Your dog can get burned on the bottom of his paws and he will have difficulty cooling down if walking on a hot surface.

Your dog will need to be walked during a hot summer day, but try walking your dog in the early morning before the sun gets too high or in the late afternoon hours when the sun is starting to set. Take your dog for a walk in a park and stay off of hot tar surfaces to keep your dog's paws safe from burning.

Dehydration Leads to Complications

As your dog becomes overheated, he will start to become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include heavy panting without producing drool and lethargy. Get your dog in a shady, cool place and provide plenty of cold water if you notice these signs of dehydration or your dog could be headed for a case of heatstroke.

Heatstroke can cause confusion, seizures and eventually death if left untreated

Heatstroke is a dangerous condition caused by dehydration and overheating. This condition can happen rapidly if a dog is trapped in a hot car. Sunburns and overheating may be uncomfortable for your pet, but they can lead to the more dangerous condition of heatstroke and this is why it is so important to keep your pet cool in the summer heat.

The best place for your pet during the heat of the day is inside with plenty of cool water and shade. Consider allowing your pet to have access to the basement if it is safe to provide a cool place for your dog to lie down. Keep a fan going for your pet and if you have air-conditioning, keep an area cool for your pet if the day is going to be exceptionally hot.

You can enjoy the heat of the summer with your dog, but keep them cool when they are not able to protect themselves and you will keep your pet healthy and safe during the hot summer days.

Melissa Nykorchuk, Author

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