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Are you a dog owner?  Dogs often become special family members and it is only natural to want to provide their comfort and safety during hot summer weather.  When I think of Fawn, Gigi, Lady, and Tasha (our great family dogs) I realize I always thought keeping our family dog protected from the heat simply meant keeping it inside on a hot day.  I now know it goes much further than that, so at the urging of daughter Erin, I am making this post in the hope it will help other pet owners this summer.

Hot summer days are dangerous for dogs, so here are eight tips to help keep your pet safe and cool.

Overheating Symptoms

First off let’s review the symptoms of a dog overheating.  Symptoms of overheating include:

  • red gums
  • heavy panting
  • might appear wobbly as they walk.

If you see this you need to get your dog inside a cool space as quickly as possible.  If you douse them in cold water, their body could go into shock.  They need to cool down naturally over a long period of time.

Tip #1 Say “No” to hot pavement!”

If you need to take your dog out for a walk on pavement (sidewalk or asphalt road) – use your hand to judge the temperature first.  Bend down and touch the pavement.  If it is hot to your hand, or too hot for your bare feet, then it is too hot for your dog’s foot pads.  Consider walking your pet in the grass or having your pet wear doggie socks or foot covers.  These will provide protection and keep your pet comfortable.  If walking on pavement is your only choice, then try early morning or early evening walk times when the pavement is cooler.

Tip #2 Keep the water coming

Water, water, water!  Keep cool water available for your outdoor dog at all times. Whether inside or out, make sure you check the water level of your pet’s water bowl several times a day, and change the water daily.  Add some ice cubes to cool it down if the water is outside.  Some people like to use water fountains – but the container doesn’t matter providing you keep the water available and cool. Dogs love to run along the beach, however if you live far from the water, you may find you dog loves to cool off in a kiddie pool, so don’t toss out the tiny plastic pool just because the kids have outgrown it!  Some dogs love sprinklers outdoors and if you don’t have a sprinkler available, simply cool down your pet by wiping your dog with a wet cloth. or towel.

Tip #3 Be the Portable Water Vendor

When my family and I go outside on a long excursion, one of us will bring water on the go.  It makes sense for us, and it should also make sense to provide some water for your pet as well.  Back when Lady was still alive, we would pull into a McDonald’s for lunch on a hot summer day and ask for a large cup of water.  Lady would just lap it up and feel refreshed.  We could tell she appreciated it, since half of the cup would be gone within five minutes.  My advice for you is to bring a cup and an extra bottle of water for your dog.  When you and your pet are taking a break, pour the water in the cup and let your dog re-hydrate for a bit.  Paper cups are great since you can fold them up when necessary.

Tip #4 Let Your Dog Rest As Comfortably as Possible

Think of those nights when it seems too hot to sleep.  Most of us can turn on a fan or up the AC.  Unfortunately dogs can’t do that.  They are totally dependent on us to provide for their comfort.  Consider letting your pet sleep on a pet cooling pad or an elevated pet bed during the summer months.  Look for a cool area within your house and consider moving the doggie bed to that area.  When you are away from home and your dog is inside, keep the AC on and close the blinds or curtains to help keep it cool.  If your dog sleeps in a dog house, make sure the opening of the dog house does not face the sun or the dog house can become too hot for the dog.  Consider putting a cooling pad inside the dog house during the summer months to help your pet adjust to the heat.

Tip #5 Keep Tabs On Your Dog’s Coat

Dogs can’t automatically trim their hair so it’s important you consider taking them to the vet or groomer to get their coats all nice and trimmed down.  A dog with a heavy coat in the summer is the equivalent of us wearing a heavy wool coat during the summer.  You won’t see it, but I guarantee they are working up a sweat.  So make sure their hair doesn’t get too long or matted during the summer months.  Once fall arrives, you don’t have to worry about the length of their coat (aside from brushing) since they’ll need it for winter.

Tip #6 Apply Sunscreen To Your Dog

Believe it or not, dogs get sunburned as well as people, with signs being red skin that is tender to the touch. You can find sunscreen for your pet at your local pet store and if they are reluctant to let you apply it, give them a treat to reinforce good behavior and let you rub it in their skin and fur.

Tip #7 Get Your Pet Some Water-Filled Toys and Cooling Bowls

Add some fun and excitement to your dog’s life by purchasing some water filled toys.  Your dog is bound to appreciate it and they’ll stay cool even while you’re out running errands.  There’s also some cooling bowls you can check out at your local pet store so you don’t have to change the water too often every day.

Tip #8 Keep Your Pet Out Of Hot Cars

Never leave your dog in a car in warm or hot weather. Most dogs love a car ride, but leaving the dog in the car while we shop has proven fatal for many pets.  Many of us think it will be ok if the window is cracked enough to let air in,  but we now know that thinking is incorrect and by keeping our dog locked in the car while we shop (even with the window partially down) we are risking our dog’s life.  On a 70 degree day the temperature inside your locked car (even with the windows cracked open) hits over 100 degrees in only 30 minutes.  When it is 85 degrees the temperature in our car zooms to 120 degrees in 30 minutes.  This is too hot for a dog to survive. One couple left two dogs in their car with the AC running while they did some quick shopping. They returned to find their AC had turned off and the family pets had died.  So please take your dog with you when you leave your car, OR even better, leave your pet at home where they can relax and you won’t need to worry about their safety while you shop.

Summer can be a great time for your pet – make the most of those warm sunny days and keep your pet safe and comfortable!