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Hot dog: Keep your dog safe in the heat!

Posted May 27 2010 10:29am

Summer heat can cause health problems, such as heatstroke, for dogs.

I tend to be a bit of a night owl, which means my day usually gets started a little later than most. In the summer that’s not so good. This morning, for example, I woke up around 7am to let the dogs out, noted how cool it was, and went back to bed. Since it was cool I thought I’d have time to snooze a bit before it heated up and that I’d take the dogs for a walk around 9. For those of you who are thinking it, yes, I’ve lived in Texas long enough to know it can heat way up between 7am and 9am. I’m going to blame my thinking it on the fact that I was half asleep though.

The thing is, the hot weather brings some challenges for dogs. People can do things to help themselves when it’s hot, but dogs . . . not so much. They rely on us to make sure they have enough water, don’t overwork themselves in the heat, and to make sure they don’t get into dangerous heat related situations. And living in a place like Texas, where it gets hotter than should be allowed, means dog (and cat) owners need to be extra mindful of their pets.

Keeping pets safe in the heat is one of many topics I talk about in the pet first aid classes I teach. Heat can cause life-threatening situations, but the good news is that they can be avoided pretty easily. Here are some of the ways you can help your pets stay safer during the heat:

  • Walk your dogs early in the morning (don’t assume it’ll stay cool like I did this morning!). Not only is the air cooler, but the sidewalks and streets will be too. Hot cement can be very painful on your dogs’ feet – and blacktop can be even worse.
  • Make sure your pets have plenty of water at all times – and make sure water bowls cannot be tipped over easily. If your dog must stay outside for whatever reason, install a auto water dispenser like the Lixit Tap Adapter or WaterDog® Automatic Outdoor Pet Drinking Fountain . Also, make sure any dogs that stay outside have a way to get out of the sun.
  • If you take your dog walking, hiking, or running, don’t overwork him as this can cause heatstroke. If your dog shows signs of heat stroke get into air conditioning as soon as possible. Some of the signs include uncontrollable panting, increased salivation, foaming at the mouth, vomiting, or confusion. If your dog does overheat, put cool (not cold) water on him to try to cool him down, and then get him to your veterinarian. Keep in mind that older dogs, dogs with health problems, and short-nosed breeds like boxers and bulldogs are prone to heatstroke.
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car unattended. If you wouldn’t sit in a car without air conditioning, don’t make your dog do it either. Leaving the windows open a little isn’t enough, and don’t be fooled into thinking you can leave the a/c running while you go run errands. If it goes off, your dog can die. It only takes a few minutes for the inside of the car to heat up to 100 or more. So, just don’t leave your dog in a car alone. End of story.

OK, so back to the morning dog walking . . . Now that we’re obviously into the summer heat, I’m going to do my best to drag myself out of bed earlier in the morning and get the dogs out for a walk. It’s good for them and it’s good for me. It just means I need to quit burning the midnight oil so much – something I’m so darn good at! Who else wants to commit to an early morning dog walk?

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