Keep Your Dog Safe In Hot Weather

Reading this article could save your dog's life. Summertime brings longer days, warmer temperatures and a need for safety. Whether you live in the far north, the deep south, the coast or the desert, the more you know about hot weather dog safety, the better.

For example, at temperatures of 50, 60 or even 70 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on humidity levels) leaving your dog in the car can turn into a fatality. Dog heat stroke happens fast. Many places have laws about leaving an animal unattended in a vehicle and the places that don't, should.

Think about it! If its 70 degrees, humidity is moderate (heat index is 80-85 degrees) but all the car windows are rolled up with a 1-3" opening, the car is in the direct sun, or even the shade, and you're leaving your dog in the car for more than 5 minutes. Could this be a problem? Maybe it's 80 or 90 degrees Fahrenheit (heat index of nearly 100 degrees) and you leave your dog in the car.

Take a moment and ask yourself, is this safe? Ask yourself if you would be safe left in the conditions you plan to leave your dog in. Would a baby be safe? If your answer is no, then your dog won't be safe either. Would a police officer, animal control officer, or veterinarian scold you or possibly ticket you for leaving your dog? If the answer is yes, then don't do it.

If you have any doubt about your dog's safety, listen to that and act accordingly. In the spring & summer months, dog heat exhaustion & heat stroke is the main concern. Believe me, watching a dog succumb due to heat exhaustion or stroke is heart breaking. They refuse water & food, are lethargic, breath rapidly, can't get up, are disoriented, vomit continually, have uncontrollable diarrhea, and slowly die.

To protect your dog from heat exhaustion and heat stroke, read the following:

*Don't leave you dog in the car unless you plan to leave the air conditioner running.

*Don't let your dog run in the middle of the day. Let your dog go for it in the early morning or at night when it's cooler.

*Keep in mind if you live in a highly humid/tropical climate, when it's 90 degrees and humidity is high, the heat index is typically over 100 degrees. Exercise your dog when humidity and the heat index is very low.

*Take stock if your dog has dark colored fur. They will get hot faster (black absorbs heat where white repels it).

*Be especially careful with short snouted dogs like pugs, bulldogs, mastiffs and shih tzu's. These breeds overheat much faster and are highly susceptible to dog heat stroke.

*Provide shade for your dog. Buy a tarp or a sheet and put it up if necessary. It's a lot cheaper than a vet bill.

*Always have fresh, clean water available for your dog. Dogs need hydration just like humans. Have a large plastic dish (metal gets hot) & leave your garden hose slightly running into the dish. A vet bill can be much higher than a water bill.

*No! An ice cold beer is not the answer on a hot summer day for your dog! Alcohol is poison for your dog. Give your dog lots of cold, clean water.

*Please don't tether your dog outside when it's hot. Dogs easily get the tether wrapped around various objects and end up in the sun. This is a recipe for dog heat stroke.

*Remember your dog doesn't wear shoes and asphalt, concrete, etc. get very hot in the summer sun. Burnt puppy pads are very painful and can become a serious issue quickly. Imagine walking barefoot on asphalt in the summer. Ouch! Walk your dog when it's cooler outside and preferably in shaded areas.

*When you're out & about with your dog, don't let your dog drink from stagnant water sources. These often have bacteria & mold that will make your dog very sick.

*Never, ever leave your dog unsupervised around a swimming pool. They can easily drown. If you have a pool, train your dog where the stairs are located so they know how to get out. Just like children, keep an eye on your dog, at all times, when they're in the pool area.

Immediately call your veterinarian or animal emergency center if any of the following occur with regard to your dog:

*Rapid breathing with an increased heart rate.

*Your dog has discolored gums--Dogs with heat stroke have dull gray or pink gums instead of the normal red-pink color.

*Your dog is disoriented--they are unaware of their environment.

*Your dog isn't listening or obeying commands, seems lost or scared.

*Your dog has a wild or panicked expression.

If you suspect your dog may have heat stroke, first call your veterinarian or animal emergency center. Secondly, to help bring your dogs temperature down, do the following:

*Gently place a cool wash cloth on the unhaired belly area. Keep rinsing the cloth with fresh cool water and applying until your dog is calmer (this should only take about 5 minutes).

This is not a substitute for getting your dog to the veterinarian or animal emergency center. Get them checked out. It could save their life.

With the temperatures rising all over, be aware & make adjustments when necessary to take the very best care of your dog. If you have questions or concerns, talk with your veterinarian or veterinary technician.
Your dog relies on you to care for them. Do a good job. The rewards are priceless.

Miss Debra Rae has been around animals her entire life. For years she ran a veterinary clinic and an animal emergency center. She continues to research and write about dogs who are indeed man's best friend. Visit Miss Rae's website at and find information for your furry canine family member from obedience to nutrition, treats to hot & cold weather safety plus all you want to know (or not know) about fleas, ticks and worms.

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