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Keeping Your Best Friend Safe and Groomed in the Heat of Summer

ERIC BITTMAN dogs in summer keeping cool

Posted on June 27, 2012 By Warren London Guest Blogger Ashley Davidson 

    - Check out her great dog blog: 5 Minutes For Ruffing

Ahh summertime. The sun is out, school is done, and vacation mode has taken over. It is officially playtime.

Living in Canada, the winter can become depressing with snowstorms creating a mild form of hibernation. But once that sun comes out and the temperatures increase, it’s like people come out of the woodwork to enjoy the great outdoors. I swear in the past month I’ve met strangers only to find out they live next door to me. Although now I am able to actually see their faces past the hats, scarves, and parkas. As much as we love our winters, summer creates a freedom and exploration in people hoping to soak up as much sun as possible. Family vacations take priority these days even if it means plopping a chair in the front yard with a cold cocktail and the sprinklers on. Outside is the place to be, especially for the family dog(s).

As much as they enjoy the summer like their owners, sometimes we tend to forget that they are enjoying this heat and sun in a full fur coat.  Heat stroke is a major health hazard for your pets during the summertime. I have compiled my top 5 most common occurrences I’ve had with my own dogs and options to avoid worst case summer scenarios. I hope my advice to fellow owners out there helps and we can all enjoy the next few months and beat the heat.

#1 – NO dogs in hot cars. I love road trips and so do my dogs. However, especially with certain breed laws out there, my dogs sometimes have to stay in the car. Even when it is just 70 or 80 degrees outside, cars can heat up to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. If you do end up having to leave the dogs in the car, a great piece of advice is to bring two sets of car keys with you. This way you can leave the car and air conditioning on and use the other set of keys to lock the car. There’s no risk for your dog involved.

#2 – Dogs can get sunburned! I have learned my lesson with sunscreen the hard way. It is always on my face but certain other areas have become very close with aloe vera over the years. Dogs with light coats, short coats, and sensitive skin are more susceptible to sunburns. Ears, noses, and areas with less hair attract the sun the most. If you’re worried your dogs may be at risk, I encourage you to buy children’s sunscreen (usually spf 30) and rub it on the areas of concern.

#3 – Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I think this is an important lesson to all, especially your pets. If your dog spends the majority of his/her day outside, be sure to have water readily available in an area where he knows it will be. I keep my outdoor water bowls in areas of shade. This way, they’re always in the same place and out of the sun. Dogs are creatures of habits after all.  An important note about water is that throughout the duration of the day it can warm up and eventually evaporate. Be sure to check your dogs water bowls to ensure they’re cool, fresh, and full. I usually grab a huge chunk of ice and add it to their water allowing it to melt throughout the day. Also, steel bowls tend to become extremely hot. If you can’t touch a bowl because it’s too hot, it is way too hot for the dogs. Plastic is safer.

#4 – The tip toe dance. Have you ever been walking your dog during a beautiful summer day and notice them impersonating a hot coal walk? Maybe tap dancing down the street? Well, this is indicative of their pads burning on the bottom of their feet. Pavement, concrete, sand, tiles, and many more areas we walk on can become very hot. If you notice your dog uncomfortably walking, the walk should be postponed. I will walk my dogs early in the morning or later in the evening in the summertime. Not only is it safer for their feet but I find the weather is more enjoyable at those times for all.

#5 – The pool. My parents have a pool and my dogs love to swim. It is a great way for them to cool off in the summer as well as good exercise. However, the pool can also be a giant risk for dogs. When introducing your dog to a wonderful swimming experience, always be sure to show them the proper way to get out of the pool. Dogs may continue swimming around the pool if they don’t know how to get out eventually leading to possible exhaustion. They’re quick learners so by showing them the stairs or ledges in the pool it will ensure an exit strategy if one day they possibly fall in or decide to go for a dip without any supervision.

Pit Bull in the Water

HELPFUL HINTS: As hot as some summer days can be, there are a ton of fun and creative ways to cool your pets down. Kiddie pools are always a hit. They’re only inches deep but still allow dogs to cool off and splash around. The hose is also a simple, yet perfect way to cool down the pups. Plus, it usually adds humor to even the hottest situations. Homemade pupsicles can also be a great treat. If you freeze a large bowl of water and/or chicken broth with favorite toys and treats inside, it’s a cold cake of goodness that will occupy a large part of a hot day. Lastly, I have recently purchased cooling beds for my dogs. Pet supplies stores around town will usually carry some sort of canine cooling beds without the use of chemicals or electricity. There are also products such as the Cool It Bandana that surrounds your dog’s neck to cool it down, as well as the Cool K-9 Dog Cooling Jacket, surrounding the entire body.

I hope my advice and hints will help your pups enjoy the heat this summer. If you suspect your dog may be suffering from heat stroke (intense panting, dry or tacky gums, disorientation, collapsing, or unwilling to get up) try cooling them down and contact your vet immediately. And don’t forget, summertime can be RUFF out there for dogs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help them enjoy it!! xx 

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