The ancient Romans called the hottest, most humid days of summer the “dog days.”
But soaring temperatures can not only make your dog uncomfortable – they also can be deadly.
This is particularly true for snub-nosed (brachycephalic) dogs such as bulldogs, Boston terriers and pugs, whose shorter nasal passages makes it more difficult to regulate their body temperature.
A good rule of thumb – If conditions are uncomfortable for you, your dog also will find them oppressive. With that in mind, here are some tips to help your dog keep cool during the summer months:
- Change your routine and take your dog for a walk during the cooler parts of the day, and select a route with plenty of shade trees. Take along a small travel bottle of water so your dog can have a drink along the way.
- Hot sidewalks can burn a dog’s paw pads. Test the pavement surface with your hand before letting your dog walk on it. If it’s too hot for your hand, consider finding a grassy or dirt surface, or purchase boots for your pet at your local pet supply store.
- Make sure your dog stays hydrated. Some dogs, including those with darker coats or who are overweight, are at higher risk of becoming dehydrated. Always keep water close at hand.
And know the most common signs of dehydration: sunken eyes, lethargy, dry mouth, and skin near the top of the neck that is slow to snap back when lightly pinched. If you think your dog is dehydrated, immediately take them to your vet.
- It’s also important to know the signs of heatstroke in dogs: temperature higher than the normal 101.5 degrees, rapid breathing or panting, excessive and thick saliva, fatigue or depression, muscle tremors, and staggering. If you notice these signs, get your pet to a cool place immediately and call your vet.
- Need to cool your canine? Get creative! Set up a child’s wading pool, turn on the sprinkler, or place a fan in front of a pan of ice. Or visit your local pet supply store and purchase a cooling pad or bandanna to keep them cool at rest or at play.
- Start at the bottom when trying to cool your pet. Because dogs cool from the bottom up, begin by spraying its paws and stomach with water, or let it lie on a wet towel instead of placing the towel on its back.
- Never leave your pet outside for long periods of time in hot weather. Shade and drinking water must be available any time a pet is outside. If your dog is inside the house, make sure it can stay cool while you are away.
- And never leave your pet inside a car on a hot day, even with the windows open. Temperatures inside a car can increase rapidly, making it very dangerous. And pets who get excited by passersby also can dehydrate more quickly. Make sure the air conditioning is on for short or long car rides.
Following these tips will help your dog weather the hottest days of summer.