Cities and towns across the US and Canada are experiencing a major heat wave this weekend, and no doubt you’ve already made steps to beat the heat. As you turn up the AC and stock up on water, don’t forget to take care of your pets during these “dog days of summer.”

We’ve compiled the following checklist to help you keep your dog healthy in the summer heat.

Golden retriever panting

1)  Keep cool and hydrate

We know that keeping the AC on at home while you are at work can be expensive. At the same time, it is important to maintain a healthy temperature if you leave your dogs in the house on really hot days. If you have an air conditioner, setting it to a higher temperature, such as 80 or even 85 degrees, will be a little easier on your wallet while helping to keep the house from getting too hot when the outside temperature reaches 90 or above.

Hydration is also VERY important. Make sure your dogs have plenty of water during the summer. Plan to bring along plenty of water and a portable dog bowl during long walks and any trips out of the house.

At home, make sure that they have plenty of readily accessible shade and water. DogWatch Hidden Fence users will want to make sure that there is enough shade in the fence area for their dogs, and that they leave plenty of clean, fresh water for their dog within that area.

Labradoodle inside red car

2)  Don’t leave your dog in the car

This tip is a frequent refrain of veterinarians and other dog health experts, with good reason. Even during the cooler days of summer and even with windows open and even in the shade, a car’s temperature can quickly rise to dangerous levels in a very short amount of time.

To learn just how dangerous hot cars can get for your dog, check out our blog post: The Facts About Dogs and Hot Cars

In short, leaving your dog alone in the car in the summer is extremely dangerous, and should be avoided. Your dog will thank you, even if it means he or she cannot come along for the ride.

french bulldog panting

3)  Watch out for signs of heat stroke

Whereas we sweat when it gets hot, dogs pant. Moderate panting is normal, but if it gets excessive, it could be a sign of potential heat stroke. Other signs include staggering, vomiting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, and high body temperature. (Read more about heat stroke signs and how to detect them here.)

Heat stroke is extremely dangerous for dogs. If you notice that your dog is showing signs of heat stroke, bring him or her to the vet as quickly as possible. Cooling down the dog is also important, but don’t go from one extreme to another. A very cold bath does more harm than good – make sure the water is cool but not ice cold.

Finally, owners of brachycephalic (i.e. flat-nosed) breeds should be particular alert during hot weather. These pets, which include Pugs, Bulldogs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke. It is important to keep their outdoor activities to a minimum on hot days.

Also at greater risk of heat stroke: senior, overweight, thick-coated or otherwise ill dogs. As always, consult a veterinarian if you have any specific questions or concerns about your dog’s behavior during these hot days.

small brown dog lifting paw

4)  Protect Your Dog’s Sensitive Skin and Paws

A dog’s skin, like yours, can burn in the sun. In addition to general discomfort, frequent sun exposure could result in melanoma (skin cancer), the most common type of cancer found in dogs. (To learn more about skin cancer in dogs, click here.)

To help protect your dog from the sun, apply dog-safe sunscreen to their nose and ear area. Light-colored and hairless dogs are the most susceptible, so make sure you protect them from the sun before heading to the beach or the hiking trail.

Finally, dog’s paws also suffer in the hot weather. Try to avoid walking the dog on hot asphalt, as it could damage or even burn their paws and cause pain.

Dog waiting next to owner at ice cream truck

5)  Don’t Forget the Pupsicles!

Reward your dog for coping with the heat by letting him or her enjoy a favorite cold summer treat! Purina’s “Frosty Paws” treats are available in most grocery stores, and many ice cream shops are catching up to the trend with their own dog-friendly treats.

For the budget conscious or creative types, you can even create your own “pupsicles” for your dog with a few simple ingredients. Try this one of these fun recipes from Rover.com, and find even more summer treat recipes on our blog.

 

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your dog will have a healthy and happy summer. Remember, summer should be fun for the whole family – pets included!

This post is an updated version of a previous DogTails blog post published in 2010.