5 Tips to Stay Cool During the Dog Days of Summer

Katilyn Leach, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist

pupsWarm weather is here and summer is just around the corner which means it’s finally time for fun in the sun with your four-legged companions! Summer is a wonderful time to be a dog owner and outdoor activities can be a great way to bond with your dog, however when temperatures begin to rise, the risk of danger to your pet is also increased. Keep the following tips in mind during your adventures this summer to ensure your dog remains happy and healthy!

1. Say no to parked cars

Leaving your dog in a parked car is never a good idea however during the summer, it can be a life-threatening mistake! According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the temperature inside your car can rise almost 20 degrees in only 10 minutes. On a beautiful 75 degree day, the inside of your car can easily reach 94 degrees in just 10 minutes. Nobody wants to sit in a hot car, especially your dog! If you plan to visit places that are not pet friendly while out and about, keep your dog at home where they can relax and enjoy the cool temperatures.

2. Avoid hot surfaces

Pavement and other surfaces that absorb heat from the sun (wood, metal, sand and vehicle surfaces) can reach extreme temperatures and retain heat even after the sun goes down. These surfaces may cause burns or blisters to their paws. Avoid walking your dog during the hottest parts of the day and always check the heat of the surface before every walk. To check the heat, place your hand or bare foot on the surface for 5 seconds. If it is too hot to keep your hand or foot on it, it is much too hot for your dog and should be avoided. If you are unable to walk your dog on a surface that does not absorb heat, booties may be necessary to protect their paws during the summer.

3. Water safety

Although most dogs love swimming, they are not all experts at the doggie paddle! Swimming can be a great way for your dog to cool off, but constant supervision is required to keep themsafe around water. Keep in mind, your dog may not make you aware if they are worn-out so be sure to keep a close watch on them as even an expert swimmer will eventually tire. If your dog isn’t in swimming shape, don’t be afraid to use a life jacket or consider using a kiddie pool, sprinkler or fountain to keep them cool.

4. Fresh water and shady areas

If your dog will be spending any time outdoors this summer, it is very important to ensure they have access to fresh water and shade at all times. Water is an obvious necessity for your dog butduring hot weather, providing cool clean water is critical as their water intake will increase as temperatures rise.  Shaded areas to relax are essential to help your dog cool off and prevent sunburns. Keep in mind that your dog may still be too hot even in the shade. If you notice your dog is panting excessively or digging holes in the dirt, it may be time to head inside and enjoy the air conditioning to avoid overheating.

5. Limit activity during hottest part of day

Take advantage of the cooler parts of the day to spend time outdoors. Be mindful of your dog’s health when considering activities for the day and adjust exercise accordingly. If your dog is older, overweight, has a thick coat or a shortened snout, they are at a much higher risk of developing heatstroke. You may need to take multiple, shorter walks throughout the day with frequent breaks for water in shady areas.

You and your dog should be off to a great start this summer by following these safety tips. Remember that every dog should be treated as an individual and may have additional needs during the warmer months. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure you are well prepared this season.