Summer Safety for Dogs

Schools are out, temperatures are rising, and you crank up the AC after a long winter. The carefree days of summer are here, but if you are a dog owner, warmer weather can pose a danger to your furry friend. Follow these tips to ensure your pet enjoys the summer sun just as much as you do! 


Prevent dehydration, heatstroke, and burns

It may seem obvious, but it is always important to make sure your pet has a fresh bowl of water inside as well as outdoors. They can become dehydrated quickly, and having easy access to water is essential. If it is too hot for you to be outside, it is too hot for your pet as weather conditions can often be experienced more severely in animals. Humidity coupled with high temperatures can intensify the heat as well. Try to avoid letting your pet outside for long periods of time if these are the conditions. 

It is important to understand the warning signs of heatstroke so you can give your dog the proper care. Heavy panting, increased heart rate, or difficulty breathing are the first signs your pet may be overheating. Your dog may also show signs of weakness and even collapse. If you believe your dog is experiencing heatstroke, immediately move them indoors or to a shaded area. Have them slowly consume small amounts of water. Pour cool water over them or place a wet towel over their body. Never use ice-cold water to avoid shocking them. Once their breathing has leveled and they have cooled down, take them to the vet for further care. 

It may seem like a good idea to shave a long-haired dog’s fur to keep them cool, but this can actually be harmful to them. The layers of a dog’s fur keep them from overheating and prevent sunburn. Trimming a long-haired dog is okay, but make sure not to go overboard. If you aren’t sure what “hairstyle” is best to keep your pet safe this summer, ask your vet. 

A lesser-known fact about heatstroke in animals is that dogs with more flat faces such as Pugs are more susceptible to heatstroke as it is harder for them to pant and cool themselves down. Dogs that are elderly, overweight, or have lung or heart issues should never spend too much time in the heat for this reason as well. 

Headed out for a walk? During the summer months, it’s best to use the five-second rule before grabbing the leash. Place the back of your hand down on the asphalt and try to hold it there for five seconds. If you can’t hold your hand there for that long then the street is too hot for your dog’s paws. Even if you pass the five-second rule, you should monitor your pet for heavy panting in the first few minutes of the walk and turn around if they are doing so.

If you enjoy taking your dog for joy rides, it’s best to leave them behind during the warmer months. Even with your windows rolled down, the car can overheat in just a few minutes. If your car were to break down, your dog may have to withstand the heat on the side of the road until help arrives. Remember, your pet should never be left in an unoccupied car. It is illegal in many states and can cause fatal heatstroke. 


Water safety for dogs

Heat is not the only element of summer that can potentially threaten your dog’s health. Many popular summer activities can be dangerous to pets that you may not even consider! For instance, many pet owners bring their dogs to pool parties or vacations to the lake or beach. Never leave your dog unsupervised around water and make sure they wear flotation devices on a boat. Harsh chemicals from a pool can irritate your dog’s skin, so make sure to rinse them off after a swim. 


Fireworks and party safety for dogs

Fireworks are a major crowd-pleaser during the summer, but this isn’t the case at all for dogs. The loud noise can spook your dog and cause them to become disoriented. They can also be exposed to the hazardous substances fireworks contain and even be burned. It is best to leave your pets safe and sound at home for any celebrations including fireworks this summer. 

While you’re hosting your summer cookouts, also keep an eye on the food and drinks. Alcohol and many human snacks can be harmful to your pet. Make sure to keep food and drinks away from your pet, and make sure your guests know to do the same.

Summer can be a great time to kick back and relax for you and your pup, so follow these tips to keep your pet healthy and cool all season long!


Further reading:

Hot Weather Safety Tips – ASPCA

Safe Outdoor Temperature for Dogs

Treatment for Heatstroke: Dog First Aid

What Temperature is Too Hot to Walk Your Dog?

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