Certain parts of the United States are experiencing massive heat waves this summer with temperatures soaring well into the triple digits. We put together a list of the top 6 things dog owners should know about hot weather safety.
1. How Dogs Handle Heat. Dogs do sweat but not the same way we do. The main way they cool themselves is by panting. Heat dissipates through the tongue and paw pads and the evaporation helps them maintain a healthy body temperature. Their cooling system is not nearly as sophisticated as ours, which is why special care must be taken to be sure they don’t overheat. For more information on body temperature and fevers, check out our pet care article “How to take your dog’s temperature.” Dogs also lose moisture faster than we do and that is why they should always have access to fresh water.
*A brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed may have a harder time cooling themselves in hot weather. Owners of flat-faced breeds like pugs, bulldogs, boxers, pekinese etc., should keep exercise to a minimum and take extra care to keep their dogs cool.
2. Your Car Is An Oven: Studies show that on a 75 degree day, temperatures inside a car with the windows cracked can raise to 100 degrees within 10 minutes. A car with dark blue or black interior can rise even more, reaching temperatures up to and over 200 degrees! Read more about hyperthermia and what to do if you see a distressed dog in a hot car.
3. Avoid Burnt Paws: The saying goes, if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it is too hot for your dog’s paws. Protecting your dog’s paws sounds easy enough but it can get tricky if you are at the beach or hanging by the pool. If your dog has sensitive pads, you can protect them from hot surfaces with Musher’s Secret. Musher’s Secret is an all natural wax that creates a “semi-permeable shield that is absorbed into the paws, allowing perspiration to escape through the toes.”
4. Exercise: Try exercising early in the morning or late at night. Walk your dog between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. and watch out for signs of heat stress; frantic panting and glassy eyes. If you suspect your dog is overheated, you can cool them off by placing a cold, wet washcloth on their bellies or by covering them in a frozen towel or ice pack.To keep your dog occupied during the day, try making a “pupsicle“. It will help keep them cool and occupied for hours. There are many different frozen treat variations you can make with items in your kitchen. Check out our pinterest board for more ideas.
5. Fur: A shaggy coat can actually help insulate your dog against the heat. If you have a thick-coated dog or cat, try FURminating them. The FURminator pet brush removes thick undercoat while leaving the outercoat which insulates and protects their skin from sunburn. As long as air can circulate through the fur, this will help keep your dog cool.
6. Fleas: Avoid Fleas and Flea-Related Health Complications. Start your dog or cat on flea preventatives before they need it, in the early spring. It is much harder to eradicate fleas from your home after they have already started to reproduce. A flea larvae is practically bulletproof and get this, vacuuming actually encourages them to hatch! If you are nervous about using flea medications containing Fipronil and other ingredients, try the all natural line containing cedarwood oil from PetOrganic Ecoshield.
Do you have any other hot weather tips not mentioned here? Leave a comment below.