SUMMER SAFETY: Keep your dog
comfortable and healthy in the warm weather with these
- Puppies and older dogs are more
susceptible to hot weather; encourage your puppy to
take a break from play to cool off, and don't overtax
your older dog.
- Your dog may be less active during
hot weather and need less to eat than in cold weather.
Observe your dog and adjust the amount of food to suit
her activity level and appetite. If your dog is losing
weight or you notice other indications of illness,
call your vet.
- Although you may think a close clip
will keep your dog cool, if the cut is too short your
dog can get a sunburn. At a normal length, a dog's
coat has insulating properties that help protect him
from the heat.
- If you take your dog to the beach,
take water for him to drink -- dogs should not drink
seawater or lake water. Bacteria and other bugs in the
water can cause an upset tummy or other illnesses.
Staying Cool and Avoiding Heat Stress
Some dogs handle hot weather better than
others. Puppies, older dogs, short-nosed breeds like pugs
and bulldogs, overweight dogs and dogs with heart or lung
problems are more likely to suffer from heat stress. If
your dog has recently moved from a cooler climate, he is
more vulnerable, too.
These tips will help you prevent heat
stress in your dog.
- Provide plenty of water and shade.
Dogs need hydration and respite from the sun, just
like people do. A few ice cubes help keep drinking
water cold longer.
- Avoid excessive exercise. On
extremely hot or humid days, try to walk your dog in
the early morning, preferably before sunrise, or later
in the evening after the sun sets.
- Never leave your dog in a car in hot
weather. (This is so important than it is against the
law in some areas to leave a dog in a car on a hot
- When traveling or shipping your pet
by air, do not schedule flights during peak periods,
which are often plagued by delays and stopovers.
Choose early-morning or evening flights, when the sun
is less strong, and pick up your pet promptly upon
arrival at your destination.
A type of heat stress, heatstroke can
come on quickly and usually results from overexposure to
heat and humidity and from a lack of ventilation.
Signs of heatstroke are panting; staring
blankly or appearing anxious; not responding to commands;
warm, dry skin; hot body temperature; dehydration; rapid
heartbeat; and collapse.
If you think your dog may have
heatstroke, call your vet. Spray your dog with a garden
hose or put him in a tub of cool (not cold) water to lower
body temperature. If water is not available, apply ice
packs to the dog's head and neck. Give your dog ice cubes
to lick on your way to the vet. Even if your dog appears
to be feeling better, an immediate trip to the vet's
office can help prevent possible secondary complications.
Not all dogs are great swimmers, and even a great swimmer
can get caught in an undertow. To be on the safe side,
give your dog a life preserver, available at pet supply
stores, especially if you plan to take your dog on a boat.
Bugs. Mosquitoes can
carry a parasite that infects your dog with heartworm
disease. Take your dog to your vet each year before
mosquito season begins, and have him checked for heartworm
and other internal parasites. Your vet can prescribe a
heartworm prevention program.
Fleas and ticks are
more plentiful in the summer. Groom your dog regularly and
look carefully for ticks and fleas. Your vet can prescribe
medication to prevent flea and tick infestation, or you
can purchase special preventive shampoos, dips, and
Lawn and garden. Some
plants are hazardous if dogs munch on them. Plan a
"pet-safe" garden or do not allow your dog in
your garden. For a list of toxic plants, visit the ASPCA's
Insecticides, herbicides, and
fertilizers can be dangerous or poisonous to
pets. Residue accumulates on a dog's paws when she runs on
a treated area; she could become ill if she licks the
chemicals off her paws. Freshly-sprayed lawns are a
particular concern if your dog is fond of eating grass.
Hot pavement or sand
can cause footpad problems. If the surface is too hot for
your bare feet (you can check the pavement with your
hand), it's too hot for your dog's.
To remove sticky tar,
rub the dog's footpads with petroleum jelly, wash with a
mild soap and water, and rinse well. Do not use kerosene
or turpentine; they irritate the skin and can be toxic.
Antifreeze. In warm
weather, cars can overheat and leak antifreeze. This
substance is highly toxic to dogs; take your dog to the
vet immediately if you suspect that she has ingested
antifreeze. Store your antifreeze in a locked cabinet or
on a high shelf, and dispose of spills promptly.
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