Spring and summer are favorite seasons for pet owners. Finally, a nice day to take the dogs outdoors and play-go for a walk, hike the trails, spend a day at the park, or swim at the beach. Your dog does enjoy spending time with you outdoors, but the sun and heat can put a toll on your friend. Here are some friendly reminders for responsible pet owners to help keep your companion cool, hydrated and happy this summer.
• ALWAYS make sure your pet has access to shade and fresh water.
• Never leave your dog unattended in a hot, parked car- even if it’s only for 10 minutes. On an 80 degree day the inside of a car can heat up to more than 120 degrees in just minutes. Leaving the windows partially rolled down will not help. You can visit the My Dog is Cool web site to see a chart on how fast your car can become overheated.
• Often owners of long or thick coated dogs will shave their dogs during the summer time, thinking this will help keep them cool. But ironically, shaving down a dog inhibits their ability to deal with the temperature change! Instead, keep your dog well- groomed by removing all its dead undercoat hair. Your dog’s skin will also be at risk from the sun. Dogs can get sunburn. Dogs that are shaved, have short white fur, or are hairless are most at risk of sun damage. Other areas of sensitivity are their noses and tips of their ears. Sunscreen is recommended. Make sure you use a sunscreen that is specifically made for your dog.
• Limit your dog’s exposure when the sun is unusually strong. Try to avoid strenuous exercise with your dog on extremely hot days and refrain from physical activity when the sun’s heat is most intense. It is recommended that you keep your dog on a leash when he or she is outdoors to prevent excessive running and play. When it’s really hot outside – even a casual walk can lead to heat stroke especially if your dog is older or out of shape. Keep your exercise routine to early morning or late evenings when it’s cooler.
• If you are taking your dog outdoors, make sure it has proper identification at all times. Should the dog get loose or lost on a hot day, it is important to locate the owners quickly to avoid extended time in the sun. The AKC suggests a collar with an ID tag, along with a tattoo or a microchip.
• If walking your dog, or taking your pet to a family outing such as the park or a festival, try to avoid walking on blacktop streets. The blacktop asphalt gets hot. Very hot! It can severely burn the pads of their paws. If possible, walk your pet on the grass or on the sidewalk instead of on the street, or provide boots. On days that your dog spends a lot of time outside, you’ll want to check the dog’s paws for sun damage.
• Again, (because it is SO important), ALWAYS make sure your pet has access to shade and fresh water.
You have reviewed the summer safety tips and you are going to do your best to provide comfort to your pet this summer, but how do you know if your pal is uncomfortable or in distress? Many people don’t even realize that their dog is overheating. That happy, long tongue is letting you know your dog is HOT! Heat stroke is a very real danger for your dog. The following is a list of symptoms that may indicate that your pet may be suffering from heat stroke:
• Excessive panting
• Vasodilation (increased redness in skin of ears/tongue/blood shot eyes)
• Nausea/ vomiting
How to respond to heatstroke in your pet:
• Find shade immediately
• Offer cool (not cold) water to drink
• Sponge with a cool wet towel or soak him in a tub of cool water. Keep a fan on the animal if one is available
• In extreme cases where your dog’s gums are gray or white, tongue is blue or it is unconscious, call your veterinarian immediately. Severe heatstroke is an emergency and requires veterinary attention.
Love, The PetsWell Team
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