Care for Your Dog during the “Dog Days of Summer”

By on August 11, 2018
Wildwood Dog Park

Southern California in August is often not the place to be. It can be hot, humid and occasionally battered by monsoonal rains. And, in recent years – including this one – we can become overwhelmed by smoke and ash as has been the case with both the recent Cranston Fire in Idyllwild and the current fire raging in the Cleveland National Forest across the Orange and Riverside county line.

But if we humans are suffering, especially from the heat and humidity, so are our dogs. Dog owners need to keep a close eye on our domesticated canines during the “dog days of summer.” They are just as susceptible to heat-related illnesses as we humans.

Petfinder, the online, searchable database of animals who need homes, offers the following tips for keeping our dogs safe and comfortable during the hottest part of summer:

  1. Watch for heatstroke – symptoms may include panting, lethargy, drooling, fever, vomiting and collapse. Breeds with shorter noses and hose who are very young and very senior are especially vulnerable. If you suspect heatstroke in your dog, seek immediate veterinary care.
  2. Give your dog extra water – whether your dog is an inside or outside pet be prepared to fill your dog’s water bowl more frequently.
  3. Offer your dog several different ways to cool off – leaving a fan running wherever your dog spends most of its time. Add ice cubes to the water bowl. Offer soft frozen treats.
  4. Never leave a dog (or cat or any animal) alone inside a car – the inside of a car, even with the windows cracked – can easily top 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, especially when the sun reflects off the car’s windows. And leaving the air-conditioner running is no guarantee your dog will be safe.
  5. Take your dog on summer walks in the early morning or late evening – the intense heat of mid-day can easily overwhelm your dog. Walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when the temperatures are cooler. If your dog is outside for extended periods of times purchase and use doggie sunscreen.
  6. Don’t leave your dog outside for more than short periods for time (a few minutes) — even in the shade, a dog exposed to extreme heat and humidity can experience a heatstroke.
  7. Avoid walks on hot surfaces – Your dog’s paws can easily become burned on hot surfaces including pavement, sidewalks, blacktop and even sand. (Note: if it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot on a hard surface, it’s too hot for your dog’s exposed paw pads.)
  8. Brush your dog regularly – brushing your dog regularly will not only control shedding but can help ward off summer skin problems and help your dog stay cool. If you opt to have your dog clipped keep the fur at least one-inch long to protect against the sun’s rays and doggie sunburn.
  9. Be alert to coolant leaking from your vehicle – dogs are attracted to a vehicle’s sweet tasting coolant. Even a small amount can make your dog sick. If you suspect your dog may have ingested vehicle coolant, take the dog to the vet immediately (seek a 24-hour vet if necessary.)

Dogs – and many other pets – are often regarded as members of the family. We owe it to them to provide for their comfort and well-being. Consult with your vet for summer heat care tips if your dog has special needs or has comprised health.