1. Watch out for signs of heatstroke or known as Hyperthermia in your dog: Symptoms include panting, lethargy, drooling, fever, vomiting and collapse. If you think your dog may have heatstroke, get the vet ASAP — the condition can cause permanent organ damage and death. One day Nitro and I were at the City of Salem Dog Park when I noticed an English Bulldog sitting inside the big cement tube trying to get some shade. He was panting heavily and he started vomiting inside the tube (out of view of his owner). The owner was sitting on a bench with his phone in his hand texting and not paying attention to what was going on with his dog. He had absolutely no idea his dog was having a heatstroke until I went over and educated him on the signs. He was totally clueless and thank goodness he listened to me and got his dog out of the heat.
Breeds with shorter noses (such as Pugs, Shi Tzu, Pekingese, Bulldogs and Boxers) as well as very young and senior dogs are especially in danger of heatstroke.
2. Give your dog extra water. You will need to refill your dog’s water bowl more often with cold clean water on hot during the summer months. Also be sure to change the water daily and in the summer months think about putting out two big water bowls instead of just one. We have three large metal bowls set up in two rooms inside the house and we have one setting right outside the back deck just outside of the back door. Every night I scrub all three dog bowls and refill them so they are ready to go the next day.
3. Offer your dog several ways to cool off. Make sure your dog has plenty of shade not just a doghouse. A dog house can get up to 115 degrees on a 90 degree day. Put a fan on in a place where your dog can sit in front of it, add some ice cubes to his water or offer him a cool treat. My dog Nitro loves ice cubes and his little kiddie pool.
4. Never leave your dog alone inside a car. Even with the windows cracked, the inside of a car can heat up to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes on a warm day. Leaving the air conditioning on is no guarantee that your dog will be safe because if your call stalls your dog can be killed within minutes.
5. Take your walks in the morning or evening. The intense heat of midday can overwhelm your dog during a walk. Exercise your dog during the cooler hours and, if your dog is in the sun for an extended period of time, apply dog sunscreen. There are several brands of pet sunscreen available but first test a small area on your dog to make sure your dog is not allergic to the sunscreen you purchase. Chris walks the dogs at 6:30 am and we walk them again at 8:30pm after it cools down.
6. On really hot days don’t leave your dog outside for more than a few minutes. Even in the shade, a dog exposed to extreme heat and humidity is at risk for heat stroke. We have boxers, a boston, a heeler, chihuahua and a chug and all of them cannot be out in the heat for more that 15 minutes when it is hot outside.
7. Avoid hot sidewalks or Asphalt: Your dog’s paws can easily become burned on hot surfaces and split open including pavement, blacktop and sand. I always slip my shoe off and test the pavement with my own foot before I decide to cross pavement with my dog.
8. Brush your dog regularly. A clean, untangled coat can help ward off summer skin problems and help your dog stay cool. If you want to give your dog a haircut, and your vet thinks it will help him cope with the heat, keep his fur at least one inch long to protect him from the sun. (Shaving down to the skin is not recommended.)
9. Be alert for coolant leaking from your vehicle. Dogs are attracted to the sweet taste of coolant, and just a small amount can make your dog sick — or even cause death. If you believe your dog may have ingested coolant, take him to the vet right away.
10. If your dog has sensitive eyes to the light from the sun you might want to think about eye protection. I highly recommend Doggles because they help keep Nitro’s eyes from getting irritated by the sun. Nitro doesn’t mind his Doggles at all and they also make him very attractive to the little ladies.
It is always important to cool your dog off gradually if your dog becomes overheated. Gently use mist or a wet towel to cool your dog off and never submerse them into cold water because it may close the dog’s capillaries of his skin which will prevent cooling of the internal organs. You can also put a fan on your dog to increase cooling.