Summer is a very
dangerous time of year for humans and their canine companions. High levels
of heat and humidity can combine to be a deadly force that affects everyone and
everything. Proper care and precautions must be taken to prevent illness,
injury or death from these conditions. While humans can generally take
care of themselves, dogs must depend on their owners to provide the proper care.
Unfortunately, humans can sometimes get so busy that the family pet is
overlooked or neglected. Using basic common sense and some simple rules
can help you be sure that your pet is never subjected to unnecessary danger.
For indoor dogs,
you might consider installing a doggy door. This will assure that your dog
can go outside when necessary, but he won't have to wait for you to let him come
back in. This can help keep him from getting overheated and will avoid
situations where you might get busy after letting him out and forget to let him
right back in. This could also be a solution for dogs that have to stay
outside because you're not able to be at home to let the dog in and out during
- the first rule of caring for your pet in hot weather is to be
sure that your dog has plenty of fresh clean water daily.
This means he needs to have more water available than he can
drink in 24 hours. If the dog is left outside for more
than 10 minutes at a time, he needs to have fresh water left
outside daily in a shaded area. The dog also needs to be given
access to water after being brought in from outside.
Consider installing an automatic waterer (in a shaded area) for your dog so that you know he always has water
available. Be sure to check the waterer daily and clean automatic bowls or
- While a dip in the pool can be a great way for humans and
dogs to cool down, pet owners should keep in mind that
not all dogs are good swimmers. Dogs should never be
allowed to swim unsupervised. Keep pool gates closed
and/or keep your dog confined away from the pool area,
especially when owners are away from home.
Remember to rinse your dog after swimming to remove the pool
chemicals from his coat and be sure those same chemicals are
safely stored away from pets. Don't forget to provide
your dog with access to clean, fresh water while swimming so
that he is not tempted to drink chemically treated pool
- CAR TRAVEL
- the number two rule of summer is to never, ever leave your dog
in a vehicle! During hot weather, even with the windows
cracked or slightly opened, the interior temperature of a
vehicle can surpass 100 degrees in less than 5 minutes!
Don't think this can only happen on 100 degree days either.
Even on days that only have a temperature in the 80's, sunshine
and a closed up vehicle can mean lethal temperatures for your
pet. Even parking in the shade on a hot day is no
guarantee that your car won't get overheated with your pet being
trapped inside. So please, leave your pet at home during
warm weather unless you will be able to keep him with you.
- HOT SURFACES
issue during the summer months is city pavement and sidewalks. Remember
when taking your dog out for walks or to play, that concrete and asphalt can
become extremely hot. Additionally, these surfaces can retain heat for
significant periods of time, so don't assume the pavement has cooled
sufficiently just because the sun isn't shining on it at that moment. If
you must walk your dog on hot surfaces, be sure to protect his feet with boots
or some other type of protective gear.
- OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
- plan outdoor activities for early morning or late evening to
avoid the hottest part of the day. Remember to limit
ball-playing or other activities that could lead to your dog
over-heating. Keep in mind that many dogs love to play so
much that they don't know when to quite. You must set
limits on play-times to ensure your dog does not over-do.
- don't suddenly begin doing outdoor activities or regular
outdoor exercise if your dog is used to being in an air
conditioned home all day. If your dog is not used to
regular exercise, is overweight or is older, even a short
walk on a hot day could cause a heat-related illness.
- LEAVING YOUR DOG
your dog stays outside for certain parts of the day, you must be sure that there
is adequate shade during these times. Remember that as the sun moves
through the day, what looks like adequate shade in the morning may be no shade
at all in the afternoon.
- Light coated
dogs and dogs with light skin color may need to have sunblock applied on their
noses and tips of their ears if they must spend a significant amount of time
- Your human family won't be the only ones appreciating the
aroma of summer cook-outs! To prevent burns, remember
to keep Fido away from campfires and grills. Be
sure alcoholic beverages and other food stuffs are also out
of reach. (Alcohol is a poison, as are chocolate,
raisins, grapes and the sweetener xylitol.
Additionally, even minor changes in your dog's diet can lead
to stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea.)
- Don't count on a
dog house to provide adequate shade. Dog houses tend to heat up and retain
heat throughout the day. If you must leave your dog outside and a dog
house is the only real shade available, try to hang a shade cloth or tarp over a
part of the dog run or yard. Ideally, you should hang the shade cloth over
the dog house or so that the dog house is shaded during the hottest part of the
If your dog(s) must
stay outside during periods of persistent high heat (consecutive days in the
90's or above), try to provide your dog with access to a cool, well ventilated
indoor area such as a garage or basement. You might also consider
installing a special "misting" hose in an area that the dog has access to.
These units can be purchased for around $25, are easily installed by anyone and
can significantly reduce the temperature in a specific area. If a misting
set-up is not an option, consider keeping a plastic child’s wading pool filled
with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.
- Owners of double-coated
breeds (Chows, Keeshond, and other Arctic breeds), owners of short or pug-nosed
dogs (Lhasa Apsos, English Toy Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Bulldogs, and Pekingese) and
owners of heavy-coated breeds (Cockers, Old English Sheepdogs, Saint Bernards)
must be particularly observant of their dogs that spend time outdoors in hot
- Double-coated and heavy-coated breeds will benefit from regular
warm-weather grooming. Keeping double-coated breeds well brushed (removing
excess undercoat) will help protect these dogs from high temperatures.
Double-coated breeds should not be shaved during summer months unless it is an
absolute necessity. If a double-coated dog is well-maintained, it's hair
will actually help insulate the dog from high temperatures.
breeds will also benefit from having their coats kept clean and tangle free, but
these breeds can also have some or all of their hair trimmed to help keep them
cool. Be careful not to trim too short however, as you could set the dog
up for severe sunburn if it is light skinned.
- Pug-nosed (brachycephalic)
dogs must have their airways monitored during hot
weather to assure they do not become blocked or
restricted by phlegm or saliva. If a short-nosed
dog's airways should become restricted due to
congestion, the dog will not be able to efficiently cool
itself and will need intervention from it's owner to
keep it's temperature properly regulated.
TRAVEL or SHIPPING:
When traveling with your dog, remember to consider the weather
conditions of the area(s) you will be traveling in or through. A dog that
lives in the mountains of Colorado most of the year, will not be able to
tolerate much exercise or outdoor activity in the summer heat and humidity of
If you're traveling by air during warm weather and wish to
take your pet, you will need to keep an eye on the temperature of your
departure and destination locations. While some small Cockers may be able
to fit in carry-on "Sherpa" shipping bags, most Cockers will have to fly in a
crate, under the plane, in the cargo compartment. Most airlines have
maximum and minimum shipping temperatures for animals being shipped as cargo and
each location where the plane will land will have to have a temperature within
these guidelines. If you must travel with or ship your pet during hot
weather, be sure to book direct flights when possible.
It's also wise to
try to find flights that leave early in the morning or late at night and which
will arrive at the final destination during the cool
part of the day. If you must ship your dog during hot weather, you can
help keep him cool by including ice packs under the crate bedding, ice blankets
for the dog to lay on or by placing ice bottles in the crate with the dog.
Ice blankets are a commercial product that are frozen after being wet down and
which can then be placed in the bottom of a crate. Ice bottles can be made
by taking 2 litter soft drink bottles, filling them with water and freezing
them. In addition to providing a container of fresh water, you can also
include a container of frozen water which is then allowed to thaw during the
Signs Your Dog is
panting - rapid breathing
- Soft tissue
of the mouth turns bright red - gums and tongue
- Difficulty maintaining
balance - may "post" or spread out the legs to support himself
- Gums become white or blue
- Dog will lie down
and be unwilling to move
- May lose
control of bowels and bladder
- Breathing may
become noisy and difficult
- Dog may
WHAT TO DO:
If you believe
your dog is showing signs of heat
distress, you should immediately try to cool the dog. Contact your veterinarian
and discuss the situation with him. If your dog becomes over-heated, the quicker
he is cooled down and treated, the
more likely he is to recover. If the situation is allowed to reach an
advanced state, the possibility of serious complications or death is greatly
increased. If you suspect your dog is over-heated and you are not
successful in immediately relieving the situation, you should seek prompt veterinary
To cool an
over-heated dog that is showing beginning symptoms of heat-related distress, you
over-cooling the dog,
take the dog's temperature every 10 minutes while you are working on cooling
him. You do not want to lower the body temperature too low. You
should discontinue your cooling down treatment once the dog's temperature is
between 100 and 102 degrees.
- Immerse the
dog in cool (not excessively cold) water or hose the dog down with cool water.
- You may apply
ice packs to the groin area, the underneath and sides of the neck, to the pads
of the feet and in the
- You can offer
the dog ice chips to lick and chew on or you may offer SMALL
amounts of water and/or Pedialyte to drink. You can use a bowl to offer
the liquid or if the dog is not enthusiastic about taking any liquid on his
own, you can try using a spray bottle to squirt small amounts into the dog's
- Applying rubbing
alcohol to a dog’s foot pads can also help with cooling.
is always the best cure, so keep the following list of suggestions in mind when
planning your warm-weather canine adventures. Most of these suggestions
can also help humans cope with hot weather, so they're a good idea for everyone:
- When traveling with your dog, take your own shade
along. For the car, invest in reflective window barriers and at least
one breathable sunblock tarp. Be sure to bring some stakes, ties and or
bungees to secure your shade tarp. A golf umbrella can also provide
adequate shade in certain situations and is compact and easy to take along.
- Include a
battery operated fan or one that has a cigarette lighter adapter. If you
have a generator or will be someplace with electrical outlets, include a
regular box or oscillating fan.
- Bring along a
gallon or several small containers of bottled water. Don't forget the water bowl!
- Take towels or a blanket
that can be wet down for your dog to lay on. Or invest in a Cooling Bed.
- Bring along a
spray bottle of cold water to spray on your dog or to give him a drink.
Some hand-held battery operated fans include a mister and are good options for
cooling your pet.
- Pack an ice
chest with ice AND ice packs.
- Keep a small
bottle of Pedialyte (available in the baby care aisle) on hand for your dog and
include some Gatorade for the humans in the group.
- If you will have
your dog in a boat or near water be sure to bring a canine life-vest to
protect your dog should he fall in the water.
- Always keep a
spare set of car keys on hand. If you must stop along the way with your
dog in the car, leave the vehicle running with the air conditioner on, the
windows slightly opened and the dog safe in his well-ventilated crate.
- If you must
leave your dog in a motor home or truck with a generator
running, be sure and check the dog often and ask a neighbor or someone nearby
to help you monitor the generator. Consider purchasing a device that will
alert you if your generator should malfunction or a temperature monitor that will sound an alarm if
the temperature reaches a certain level.
- If leaving
animals in a motor home, van or truck, you should always leave a window or
door partially open or run the exhaust fan. You should do this even if you
have the generator and air conditioning running. Never leave your
vehicle completely shut up.
- Include canine
first aid items in your emergency supplies - alcohol, cotton balls,
- Investigate the
areas you will be traveling through or staying in and always know where the
closest veterinarian or emergency clinic is located and keep these addresses,
directions and phone numbers handy.
Do not blindly trust mechanical
devices (generators, vehicle engines and air conditioners) with your dog's life.
Mechanical devices can and do malfunction. You, and you alone, are
ultimately responsible for your dog's well-being and care. The best
prevention and the easiest way to ensure your dog is safe and sound is to never
leave him unattended or unsupervised for any length of time.
Do not trust
others to monitor your dog's condition. You know your dog and will
recognize unusual behavior much sooner than a stranger. In addition, do
not expect children to monitor or be responsible for your pet's health.
Children are easily distracted and are not always capable of determining if a
dog is over-exerting itself or suffering from heat related distress.
Children and pets should always be supervised by an adult during warm-weather,
outside activities or playtimes to assure that a dog does not become