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Summer Heat Dangers for Your Dog

Summer is definitely here, and it’s come in full force. With weather easily reaching the high 90’s and above, dog owners have a lot of responsibility when it comes to keeping their pets safe. There is a lot we can do to ensure our pet’s safety and comfort including:

  • The obvious – Don’t leave your dog in a hot car
  • Watch for signs of heat stroke and take preventative measures
  • Avoid walking dogs on hot asphalt
  • Watch the humidity, not just the heat
  • Provide plenty of cool water and shade for your four-legged friend

Most people know to not keep their dogs in a car, especially on a hot summer day, but some people may not know all of the facts. Even if it is just for a few minutes, heat levels in a car can reach dangerous levels. On a 78 degree day, a car parked in the shade can reach 90 degrees within minutes, and a car parked in the sun at this same temperature can reach an astonishing 160 degrees. These temperatures are more than dangerous for humans, let alone a dog. Dogs are unable to sweat through their bodies like humans and must rely on their paws and panting to regulate their body temperature. It takes only 15 minutes for a dog to reach temperatures that are damaging and could end up suffering heat stroke and even death.

There are numerous signs of heat stroke and there are easy preventative measures you can take to keep your dog happy and safe. Signs of heat stroke include:

  • a bright red tongue
  • excessive panting
  • weakness
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  •  increased salivation
  • increased heart rate

Dogs with shorter, pushed-in noses, such as Boxers, Pugs and Shih Tzus can have an even harder time breathing in the hot air as their snouts are not as elongated as other breeds. Preventing your pooch from suffering heat stroke can be quick and easy, a main point being to provide cool water at all times. Cool water will not only keep your dog hydrated in the heat, but will also help regulate their internal temperature. Keeping a dog in cooler areas of a house or in the shade if outside will also help this internal temperature stay in a safe zone. Don’t overexert your pooch in the heat, try to limit running and play time as, just like a human, strenuous activities can add to the danger of heat.

Another danger in the heat that many owners do not think about is walking a dog on hot surfaces such as asphalt, concrete or bricks. Surfaces like roads and sidewalks can reach temperatures much higher than the air, a 77 degree day can have roads that reach 125 degrees and an 87 degree day can have that same road reach 143 degrees. With temperatures reaching over 90 degrees recently, the roads your dogs are walking can easily reach over 150 degrees.  If you can “fry an egg” on the road, your pooches paws will also be fried. The pads of dog’s paws can burn very easily, comparable to the bottoms of a human’s feet or hands. A quick test you can do to make sure your dogs will be safe is to hold your hand on the asphalt for 30 seconds. If you have to move your hand before the 30 seconds are up it is too hot to walk your dog on the surface.

Humidity is a big factor when it comes to the safety of dogs, and one that many pet owners don’t think of.  Humidity will add to what the temperature feels like outside, taking a toll when the temperature without humidity is already 90 or more degrees. This increases the chances of a dog suffering from heat stroke as well as the temperature of asphalt. Pets can overheat quickly since panting is not an efficient way of cooling down, especially in a high-humidity environment. Dogs pant to evaporate moisture to their lungs, but if the humidity is too high this means of cooling down is no longer viable.

Summer can be a fun and safe season for you and your dogs.  Please just use common sense and think of them because they will not complain if they are with you!