Summer can be a season of fun and relaxation…but the weather can also provide some challenges, both for us, and for our dogs. May 31st is officially Hot Weather Awareness Day, so in preparation, we’ve put together some suggestions to help you and your dog enjoy a carefree summer.
Here in Brevard County, Florida’s Space Coast, summers can be brutal both in temperature and humidity. So it’s essential that you be aware of how best to care for your dog under various scenarios.
Dogs in Vehicles
The first and absolutely most important thing to know is: never leave your dog in a hot car. EVER! It takes minutes…minutes…for a dog to develop heat stroke and suffocate. And it doesn’t have to be that hot outside to be lethally hot inside. A 78-degree day can turn into a 160-degree car interior when that car is left in the sun. Leave your dog at home, or take him with you when you get out of the car. Leaving a window open a crack is not sufficient!
The same caveat applies to truck beds. Don’t. A dog in a truck bed is exposed to direct sun, and metal floors that scorch his paws. Not to mention, he can fall or jump out: that alone should prevent anyone from putting their dog in a truck bed.
If your dog is riding with you, bring a bowl and water as well. Dogs need hydration in the heat as much as we do.
Exercise Safely in Summer
Going for a run with your dog? Think again. On a scorching summer day, skip the run and opt for a walk. You may be dressed in lightweight shorts and a tank top, but your dog is still wearing a coat. And, speaking of coats, if your dog has a long coat, a summer shave might be in order.
But don’t go overboard! Too much and your dog can get sunburned. In addition, a dog’s coat is designed not just to warm in winter, but cool in summer, so all you want to accomplish is trimming back some of his long hair. Your pup’s nose can burn, too, so be sure to use pet-safe sunscreen before venturing outside for a walk.
Dogs do not have the ability to sweat as we humans do. Instead, they cool themselves through panting, although they do sweat a little through their paws as well. Put ice cubes in your dog’s water bowl. Just like us, the cooler water will help cool him down as well.
When you head out for your walk, check the surface you will be walking on first. If you place the back of your hand, or bare foot, on concrete or asphalt for 10 seconds (and no, don’t wait the whole 10 seconds if your hand is on fire!). If it feels like you are getting burned, your dog’s paws will feel the same way. And it doesn’t just feel that way, you can literally scorch your pup’s paws by walking on hot surfaces on a sizzling summer day.
If the sidewalk or pavement is too hot, walk on the grass. Or walk later in the day, or early in the morning, when temperatures are cooler. Booties can be purchased to protect paws from hot surfaces during a walk. If you have a small dog, you might try taking the exercise inside and throw some toys around for your dog to chase. This is what we do when we are caring for our Space Coast Pets!
Swimming if available can be a great option instead of a walk. If you’ve got room a paddling pool is a perfect hot weather choice for your dog. Be sure you know about how to prevent drowning if you decide to enjoy the water with your pup!
If you’re planning a hike, make sure to bring water, hike in shady areas, and take it slow, with frequent rest periods. Don’t plan any major hikes on a hot, humid day. You may also want to cool your dog down by spritzing him with water before your hike, or you can purchase cooling dog collars for your daily strolls.
Make sure any dog walkers you hire know just what to do when walking your pup in Space coast summer weather. And any dogs left outside need to be provided with shade and plenty of water.
Prevent Heat Stroke
How do you tell if your dog is overheated? Be aware that flat-faced dogs such as pugs and bulldogs, as well as overweight dogs, are particularly prone to heatstroke. Overheated dogs will start panting and drooling. As heatstroke sets in, they may start to lose coordination or be unable to move, and soon vomiting and diarrhea will kick in, followed shortly by collapse. So take action immediately as soon as you notice excessive panting.
If you suspect heatstroke, soak your dog with cool…not cold water, either by hose, wet towels or submersion in a tub. Focus initially on the head, neck, and underneath each leg. Call your vet to determine if you should bring your dog in. Heatstroke can kill, so take steps to cool your dog, and call your vet, immediately.
Be sure your dog sitters are aware of these precautions during hot periods, and make sure they know how to reach your vet in an emergency.
Beaches and Boats with Your Dog
Planning a trip to the beach? Both you and your dog will enjoy the opportunity to play on a long sandy beach. And swimming of course is a good way to cool off. But take precautions here as well. Bring water and a bowl, use sunscreen on that sensitive doggy nose, and always provide shade, whether under a table or an umbrella. Sand can be just as hot on a pup’s feet, so make sure he has a towel to rest on and walk him in the water or on the wet sand at the water’s edge.
Boats are part of summertime fun here in Brevard County, and your dog may love to go with you on an outing. Be sure to bring doggy waste bags, a bowl and plenty of water of course. We can’t stress how important hydration is! Also, make sure there is shade on the boat for your pup.
To cool him further, you can splash some water on him, or if he likes to swim the two of you can jump in together! Do be careful with his paws on the floor of the boat. It can get pretty hot, so, besides the shade, make sure he has a towel or dog bed to lie on and keep his feet off of the hot surface.
Summertime is fun. Enjoy! Just be sure to take these precautions for your pups (and you as well!) and you can relax while the living is easy. And if you need experienced pet sitters who know how to take care of your pups in the heat, contact us at Space Coast Pet Services.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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