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SUMMER SAFETY: Keep your dog comfortable and healthy in the warm weather with these practical suggestions.

General Tips

  • 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 day.)
  • 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.

Preventing Heatstroke

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.

Hot-Weather Dangers

Swimming. 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 collars.

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 website.

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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