The Dog Days of Summer

Summer is upon us and for your service dog or companion animal, here are some tips for helping your furry friend stay cool, no matter how high the temperature.

The All-Important Water Bowl
It is probably obvious, but it’s also important to remember that the water dish you filled to the brim can disappear quickly.  Dogs can lap up the water, accidentally tip the bowl over, or the water can simply evaporate in the heat.  So, be sure you check there is plenty of drinking water, whether your dog is inside or outside the house. We like to add ice cubs to the dog’s bowl, to keep the water cooler longer and, of course, lots of dogs like to play or chomp on these cool cubes. For dogs whose water bowl is outside, it is best to use a ceramic bowl or one that doesn’t absorb heat.  Also, try to put the bowl in a shady area, moving it if necessary as the sun shifts.

Pools for Dogs
Most dogs enjoy jumping around in the water, and a plastic kiddie pool with cool water is ideal.  Or, if there is water nearby, the ocean, a pond, a river or a lake, take your dog there and let him or her dash about.  Even dogs that generally don’t like water, will enjoy wading in the shallow area to cool their paws. But, however you choose to let your dog play in the water,  never leave your  dog unattended.

PopsicleFrosty Pupsicles
For a hot weather treat, here’s a great recipe:
•    Mix equal parts water and chicken stock.
•    Throw in a few pieces of kibble (optional)
•    Pour the mixture into ice-cube trays
•    Freeze overnight
•    Store in resealable plastic bags

Don’t “Keep Off the Grass”
Don't Keep Off the Grass signThe sun can easily burn your dog’s paws while walking on a hot sidewalk or street.  If you’re unsure, reach down and put your whole palm on the cement or asphalt and hold it there for a moment.  If it’s too warm for your hand, it will be too hot for your pup’s paws. So, wherever possible walk your dog on the grass.

No Haircuts Now
Many people mistakenly believe that trimming or shaving a dog’s fur during the summer will help to keep him or her cool.  Actually, quite the opposite is true.  Fur acts as insulation, which helps keep your put cool in the summer.  Furthermore, their furry coat protects against sunburn.  You might also apply a pet-specific sunscreen to any areas not covered in fur or in nonpigmented areas such as the dog’s ears and bellies.

Sunshine Dangerssunshine

Warning signs for dehydration or heatstroke:
•    sunken eyes
•    weakness or lethargy
•    loss of appetite
•    dry mouth
•    excessive panting or drooling
•    change in gum color
•    decreased skin elasticity (if skin is pulled at the neck and it doesn’t return to normal right away)
Pet Emergency signWhat to do:
If your pup shows any of the above signs, it can signal a dangerous condition. Immediately stop your dog’s exercise, and get him/her out of the sun. Bring your pup to a cool area and offer fresh water – but don’t force him to drink.  Place cool, but not icy-cold, compresses to the back of the dog’s neck, groin, paws, “armpits,” and earflaps. If this doesn’t help right away, or your dog’s temperature exceeds 104 degrees, call your veterinarian without delay!  Without immediate emergency medical intervention, your dog can die.

Avoiding Humid Heat & Sunburn
With the humid, heavy heat, it’s best to limit activities and walks to early morning and late evening, when the weather is cooler.  The higher the humidity, the more difficult it is for dogs to shed heat.
Dog wearing green straw hat and sun glasses

Have a Happy Summer and Keep Cool!

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9 Responses to The Dog Days of Summer

  1. Marie Grime July 16, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Excellent advice! We once lost two hunting dogs to heat stroke at the beach, so I learned the hard way at an early age how dangerous summer.can be for dogs.

    May I share some of your tips in my neighborhood newsletter? I would hate to lose one of our precious babies because, like my parents then, my neighbors underestimated the damage that heat can do.

  2. Cliff Mueller July 16, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    We have three dogs and a doggie door so they’re in and out all day. We keep a big water bowl outside in the shade and another inside the house. Occasionally one might go dry but the dogs are smarter than us and will find the other bowl.

  3. Norman W Wilson, PhD July 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Great suggestions for our dog lover friends. A side note, if you please. Yesterday, while at our local post office, the vehicle next to mine had two tiny dogs in the car, windows closed. Temp was 80. I was about ready to go in and demand the owner come out. It was thne I realized the car was running and the AC was on. Hmmm. Waiting for car theft. I bring this up as a reminder not to leave pets or animals in a car with windows closed.

  4. Mary E. Trimble July 16, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    You’ve made some good suggestions, Patricia. During this hot weather, we cool down our chocolate lab with a couple handfuls of water on his head. He’s immediately more comfortable. When we were in Africa where it was very hot, my husband Bruce said his beard kept his face cooler. Hard to imagine, but I guess it’s true.

  5. Kathleen Kaska July 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    When we lived in Texas, I used to take a wet, cold washcloth and wipe down my dog’s ears after she came in from her walk. It cooled her down quickly.
    Great blog info, Patricia.

  6. Patti Cole July 17, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    Great information Patsy. I’m glad I now know all the areas to apply cool compresses if needed.

  7. John Finlayson July 24, 2014 at 4:28 am #

    Great advice! My dog is sensitive to heat. When it warms up she slows down. Leaving dogs in cars without shade and ventilation on a warm day may also result in an unhappy outcome. We had such a tragic incident in this area recently.


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