Spring has sprung, the weather is beautiful and everyone is ready to get out there for some fun in the sun! Your best friend is eager to come out with you and enjoy the beautiful weather.
Some of the most common dangers that our dogs face during the warm summer months can be avoided if we plan ahead.
It is a season of trips to the park, festivals, farmer’s markets, family bbq’s and plenty of fun in the sun and water. These tips will help you and your dog safely enjoy the summer months:
Avoiding Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is the most common and deadly disease, but it is entirely preventable! We always associate it with leaving your dog in a hot car, but more often than not it can be common activities that we do with our dogs that brings on this deadly condition.
- Weekend warrior strenuous exercise. Do you like to take your dog for a run on the weekend? An extra long game a fetch with the chuck-it at the park? A wild romp with his dog buddies?
- Extended time outside. A long afternoon at the Farmer’s Market, the outdoor concert or even a day of family fun outside. If your dog doesn’t have access to shade to cool him off, heat stroke can begin to set in.
Know what to look for and what to do in case your dog begins to overheat.
Did you know that dogs can’t sweat like humans to cool off? Their method of releasing heat and cooling off is panting. While this works most of the time, when it doesn’t your dog’s internal temperature can skyrocket and the symptoms of a dangerous heat stroke can set in.
According to Stefanie Wong, DVM a normal body temperature for your dog is between 99.5F and 102.5F. With heat stroke, temperatures can rise to 104 and higher. Once they reach 106 or higher organ damage can result and aggressive treatment and hospitalization are required.
What to look for:
- Excessive panting and restlessness
- Excessive salivating
- Shock, vomiting, diarrhea and weak or unsteady on their feet
- Brick red gum color
At the first signs of heat stroke you should take these initial steps and get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
What to do:
- Move your pet to a cool/shaded spot
- Wet them down using a hose, buckets of water or in the tub
- DO NOT USE ICE OR COLD WATER as this can actually make heat stroke worse
- Offer water but do not force them to drink
- Keep air vents and fans on them on the way to the vet
How to Prevent it:
- Don’t over do it with your dog. Save intense activities for early in the morning or evening once the weather has cooled.
- Know your dog’s physical limits. If they are a little out of shape, ease them into more strenuous exercises, especially if they only get out on the weekends.
- If you will be outside of an extended period of time bring some shade for your dog. A small pop up canopy, a battery powered fan and plenty of water.
Warmer temperatures also mean pavement and sidewalks that are hot, hot, hot!!! The common rule of thumb should be if the pavement is too hot for you to walk on with your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog.
An average summer day at 77 degrees can result in asphalt or sidewalk temperatures in excess of 125 degrees! As a point of reference, you can fry an egg on the sidewalk at 131 degrees. If you live is an area where the temperatures are much hotter than that in the summer… taking your dog downtown for lunch or to the Farmer’s Market may not be the best plan.
It is usually not until after we arrive that we realize there isn’t much grass at the market or shade at the downtown shops. At best its uncomfortable for your dog, and at worst it can be serious burns to the bottom of their feet.
Plan ahead with your dog’s safety in mind!
- Bring the right equipment. Plenty of water, shade, and a fan.
- Don’t over do it
- Once your arrive at your destination, check out the conditions from your dog’s point of view before your set out. If it will be too hot, change your plans.
- Always monitor your dog for the first signs of heat stroke.
- Know what is normal panting and gum color for your dog and take action if it isn’t right.
Kathryn Durno’s passion is canine sports, nutrition and fitness. She is a freelance writer, the owner of Dog Mamma’s Organic Dog Treat Company and is owned by three Brittanys – Biddy, Tristan and Nate. Visit her on the web at www.dogmammas.com