The Dos and Don’ts of Keeping Your Dog Safe and Cool This Summer
Our four-legged best friends love summertime just as much as we do. Summer brings sunny days filled with long walks, outings to the pool and beach and limitless outdoor playtime.
But with the weather heating up, you may begin to notice your pup panting after walks, acting a bit lethargic or searching for a cool place to nap (my dog opts for the cold, hard kitchen tile floor this time of year over his plush bed).
That’s because, just like us humans, dogs can experience the same discomforts and health risks that come with the summer sun, such as bug bites, dehydration and, believe it or not, even sunburn.
It’s a bittersweet moment when it hits you that your best 4-legged friend is getting older.
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So to ensure you and your pooch will have a healthy and joyful summer together, we’re sharing a few dos and don’ts to help keep your pup safe and cool during the “dog days” of summer.
DO: Keep the AC On
As the temperatures rise, it’s important to turn up the air conditioning in your home — not only for your own comfort, but for your pup’s wellbeing, too! Even when you’re out for the day, be sure to keep the house cool so long as your dog is home (closing the drapes helps, too). If you don’t have an AC unit, be sure to keep the windows open during the cooler mornings and evenings, and leave a fan on throughout the day.
DON’T: Take Extra Long Walks in the Midday Heat
Before heading out for a leisurely summertime stroll, assess the heat and humidity outdoors. Whenever possible, it’s best to stick to taking walks during the cooler parts of the day, like in the early morning or evening, and bring along some water for both you and your pooch (see the next “Do” below for some great portable hydration options).
It’s also recommended to touch the pavement before heading out – if it’s too hot for your hand, then it’s definitely too hot for your dog’s little paws. Scorching asphalt can burn his footpads and increase overall body temperature, which can cause overheating. If you have to take a walk during the day’s peak heat, try to keep him off the street by walking on the grass.
A wonderful way to keep your pup’s paws cool no matter the time of day is by getting him some booties to sport. You can shop dog walking boots here.
Click here to check out the paw protective dog boots in the image above.
DO: Hydrate Often
Without enough water, your pet can become dangerously dehydrated during the summer months. To prevent dehydration, provide your little one with unlimited access to clean, cold water both inside and outside. Add ice cubes whenever you can to help keep the water cooler longer. My dog even loves nibbling on ice cubes as an afternoon treat, which is a great way to encourage a little extra hydration too!
When you leave the house with your furry companion, be sure to pack a travel bowl or a pet-friendly water bottle — these are perfect for trips and car rides, or if you’re heading out for a walk or hike.
For an added boost of hydration, you can also feed your dog wet dog food during the summer months to increase overall fluid intake.
To check out the water bottle featuring a removable bowl for dogs in the image above, click here.
DON’T: Leave Your Dog in the Car
Never ever leave your dog unattended in the car in hot weather, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Temperatures can quickly escalate inside a parked car. Even with a window cracked, it’s not enough to cool down an entire car. Neglecting your pup in a hot car as you run errands can lead to some pretty severe health concerns like heat stroke and dehydration.
DO: Groom Your Dog
It may go without saying, but ensuring your furry best friend’s fur is neat and trimmed will help keep him a bit cooler throughout the season. So when you book your next haircut appointment, don’t forget to set up a trip to the groomer’s for your pup, too!
It’s also important to keep your dog’s hair clean and well-kept between haircuts. Using a de-matting brush to remove any tangles promotes proper air flow and will help him stay cool.
DON’T: Assume Your Dog Knows How to Swim
Most dogs love to swim, so my dog’s aquaphobia (fear of water) came as a shock to me! While swimming can be an excellent way to help your little one cool off and prevent heat stroke, not every dog is excited to doggie paddle his way across the water. Even though your furry companion probably inherently knows how to swim, don’t be quick to assume he’s a good swimmer, or that he is able to easily get in and out of the pool — make sure you never leave your swimming dog unattended.
Plus, did you know that pool water can irritate your dog’s skin and drinking it can upset his tummy? So it’s important to stop your pup from drinking the water and be sure to rinse him off with clean, chemical-free water post-pool time.
Allowing your dog to play in a pet pool is a great alternative to the chemical-laden pool water, and equipping him with a dog life jacket will help keep him safe if swimming in a deep lake or the ocean.
You can shop the dog life jacket in the image above here.
DO: Look Out for Signs of Overheating
Unlike people, dogs can’t tell you when they’re not feeling well. So throughout the summer, make sure you’re cognizant of indicators that your pup may be experiencing overheating, which can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Common signs that your dog may be getting a little too hot include:
- Heavy panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Overall weakness
If you notice any of these warning signs, call your trusted veterinarian as soon as possible.
DON’T: Let Your Dog Roam Freely Around the Barbecue
My dog LOVES grilling season because it means he gets dibs on the scraps of meat that fall off the grill. But after doing a little research, I realized this isn’t safe — nibbles that fall on the ground or are left stuck to the grill after cooking can burn your dog’s sensitive tongue or mouth if they haven’t fully cooled yet. (Not to mention, the char from the grill may be too risky for pets.)
Try to keep your dog away from barbecues or keep him on a short leash. Also, remember that lighter fluid is highly poisonous, so make sure that you store it out-of-reach from your little one.
DO: Lather up with Sunscreen
Surprisingly, dogs are susceptible to sunburn just like people, too! Pups that have light-colored fur, or are thinly coated, are at increased risk for sunburn. And just as for us, sunburn can be painful for your dog and result in peeling and itching, inflammation, weakness and more. To protect your pooch from the sun’s harmful rays, apply a sunscreen specifically designed for pets to his back, ears, nose and the skin around his mouth.
Click here to shop doggy sunscreens.
You can shop the premium dog sunscreen feature in the image above here.
DON’T: Let Your Dog off the Leash
Summertime brings lots of new wildlife, animals running around and bugs everywhere (see how to protect your pets from harmful seasonal insects below). And you never want to lose your dog to his desire to run off and explore the season’s array of unfamiliar sights, smells and sounds! So unless you’re comfortable in an enclosed dog park, be extra cautious to ensure that your pup is secured on a strong and durable leash when taking a walk — believe it or not, too many leashes and collars fail over time, risking your pet’s safety. You can even get your dog microchipped at the vet for an extra safety precaution.
DO: Protect Your Dog from Parasites
Did you know that dogs can be bitten by as many as 500 mosquitoes per day in peak season? And these bugs are more than just pesky little nuisances — they can transmit dangerous heartworms. Fleas and ticks can also carry diseases and spread them to your pets.
This time of year it’s especially important you talk to your vet about taking the proper preventative measures to protect your little one from these disease-ridden insects. He or she may recommend a natural pet insect repellant or even an insect repellent bandana.
Click here to check out the insect repellent bandana shown in the image above.
These summertime safety tips we’re “off-furing” as general guidelines, but you know your pup best! So if your dog is an expert swimmer, no need for a life vest! Or if he’s obedient around food, then go ahead and let him join in during the cookout festivities! Just be cautious of potential dangers, and do what you can to help him stay cool and hydrated all season long.
We hope you and your pup have a safe and fun summer together!