It’s hard to believe that only a few short months ago, the snow drifts were menacing and any article on safety tips for your dog would have included the art of dodging snow plows. But things change quickly here in New England and often it’s the weather that leads the charge. This year is no different. Now the weather is sunny and warm and the rapidly approaching hot summer days caution us to take extra precautions in caring for our furry dog friends as the heat and humidity arrive.
Here are some things that you really need to understand and embrace in your routine dog care. Dogs are different than humans and react to the heat in different ways. How can we best care for them?
First a visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your dog gets tested for heartworm if he/she isn’t already on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Much of this is dependent on where you live and where your dog gets his regular exercise, but you should ask your vet to recommend a safe flea and tick program. As we know ticks can be particularly harmful unless you take good preventative measures, so be diligent. As you read through our tips remember that all dogs are vulnerable, but short snouted dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs, Mastiffs and Shih Tzu’s are breeds that over heat much faster and are highly susceptible to dog heat stroke.
The following is a list of guidelines that we at Toureen Pet Resort and Spa consider particularly important as the summer approaches.
1. Dogs can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your dog has a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over exercise, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
How will you know if they are overheated? Many veterinarians suggest that “symptoms of overheating in dogs include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.” Dogs with flat faces, like Pugs, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
2. Never! Never! Never! leave your dog in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time, even with the windows open, which could lead to fatal heat stroke. Leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states and punishable by hefty fines or in some cases, permanently removing the dog from the owners care. Amazingly, we frequently read about sad incidents where the dog-owner has left his pet in a car on a blazing hot day. Please make sure you adhere.
3. Do not leave your dog unsupervised around a pool. Not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pet to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset. If your dog is allowed to swim in a pool, make sure there are stairs or an easy way to exit. A tired dog unable to get out of a pool can easily drown.
4. Limit your dog’s exercise on really hot days. You need to adjust the intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the heat and humidity. On exceptionally hot days, limit your dog’s exercise period to the early morning or evening hours. Also, if your dog has white colored ears, he or she may be more prone to skin cancer.
Asphalt gets very hot very quickly and can burn your dog’s paws, so please try to walk them on the grass. And make sure that you always carry some liquid refreshment with you when you’re out with the dog. Collapsible dog bowls that fit easily in a pocket are available in pet supply stores. They can easily be filled from a water bottle or a public drinking fountain.
5. Don’t rely on just a fan for indoor cooling. Dogs respond differently to heat than we humans do. For example, did you know that dogs sweat primarily through their paws? Not to mention that they have fur. It stands to reason that a small fan isn’t going to do the trick when it comes to keeping Fido cooled off indoors. Large ceiling fans are much better but air conditioning is best. And don’t forget to add ice to your dog’s water supply.
6. Avoid unhealthy chemicals. Mouse and rat baits as well as routine lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your dog has ingested something dangerous.
The summer is a great time to have lots of fun with your dog but it’s also a time when we need to take a little bit of extra care to ensure your pet’s health. It’s well worth it for the health and safety of our beloved companions.