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.
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”
The 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.
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)
What 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.