Sun. Beaches. Hiking. Pool Parties. Summer is all about fun, and our dogs would totally agree with that. However, since dogs have normal body temperatures warmer than ours, summer can get extremely challenging for our furry companions. Additionally, dogs do not sweat in the same way we humans do and can easily become overheated. So, if you own a dog or care for a street dog, and wish to keep them cool and comfortable, here are some simple tips on how to care for a dog during summer.
1. Watch the sunlight hours
Avoid exposing your dog to sunlight for more than an hour during summers. Plan your daily walks and exercise your dog early morning or after sunset. Do not over exert your dog. Walk at a gentle pace. Take breaks and carry fresh water. Remember to be considerate about your dog’s paws, as the heat can crack, burn and hurt his paws. Choose grassy and muddy areas for walks in the hot weather.
2. Never, ever leave a dog in the car
NO! Not even for a minute. During summers, the temperature inside a car parked in the sun can reach up to 160° in a matter of minutes. Dogs left in parked cars suffer brain damage and die from heatstroke. Leave your dog at home on warm days. If you’re driving around with your dog in the car, hydrate him prior to the ride, keep fresh water and a water-dish, and take your dog with you when you leave the car.
3. Know the Signs
A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with a human’s normal body temperature of around 98.6 degrees. Besides, dogs don’t sweat, they pant. They pant and drink water to bring down their body temperature. In summer months, when there is only hot air for a dog to breathe, it’s a lot harder for that dog to keep cool. It is important to know these signs and watch out for symptoms of overheating and dehydration in dogs.
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Bloodshot eyes
- Loss of consciousness
- Wobbly legs
- Restlessness or Lethargy
- Dry skin
If you see any of these signs, get the dog to the vet right away.
4. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Make sure there is always plenty of clean, fresh, cool water for your dog. Keep a bowl full of water in every room and shady-corners of your garden and terrace. Replenish water bowls a couple of times in a day and make sure you let the hot water run out of the taps before refilling the bowls. Adding ice-cubes in the bowl keeps it cool, and are fun even for senior dogs. Also, give your dog water alternatives with electrolytes, buttermilk (without salt), frozen treats, fruits and coconut water. Do not give human energy drinks or cool drinks to dogs.
5. Moisten the food
Dogs tend to eat less in summer and use most of their time to cool themselves off. It is advisable to serve them small and moistened meals for a summer diet. It’s normal for a loss in appetite during hot weather, so include fluids such as broth, curd or buttermilk with your dog’s meals. Make sure their diet provides them adequate levels of energy, vitamins, and minerals. More importantly, discard any uneaten food, as food spoils more readily in summer months with the increase in temperature, causing bacteria to accumulate.
6. Keep indoors cool & ventilated
Remove the cushioned bedding and fleece blankets from your dog’s bed and keep cotton sheets, as dogs are more comfortable lying on cool bottoms in summers. While keeping your dog indoors, remember to keep a fan or air cooler on in the room he rests. Make sure the room is airy and has adequate ventilation. If you do not have a well-ventilated room, keep the exhaust fan permanently on for proper air circulation. Another alternative way, is cooling the room for thirty minutes and allowing the puppy to sleep in an air-conditioned room using a ceiling fan for the rest of the time. Also, if your house has a balcony or garden, always encourage your dog to stay in shaded areas and away from direct sunlight.
7. Dog Pools
Swimming is fun during summer. It keeps dogs cool and they get their exercise too. If your dog loves water, you can take him for dips on weekends to dog-pools or a lake close-by, or he can have his own paddling dog-pool in the shade of his home to have some fun splashing and cooling off. If you don’t have a dog-pool, get creative: plug your bathroom’s water outlet and turn on the tap, or simply lay down a wet towel soaked in ice-water for your dog to lie on. The belly and paws of a dog are great areas to dampen and are more effective at keeping your dog cool. Nothing beats a refreshing sploot in water on a hot summer’s day.
8. Give your dog some space
Heat can make you feel bothered, grumpy and irritable. Likewise, hot weathers can be hard on your dog too. If your dog growls or gets snappy during summer, you can officially blame the weather. During summertime, offer your dog some space; he will love it. Also, remind young children at home, that their hugs may not be appreciated on sweltering days.
9. Summer Grooming
Take your dog for regular grooming sessions and baths when necessary, as this will keep your dog’s coat clean and free of knots. This is important as matting can trap heat. You can trim the longer ends of your dog’s hair, but do not shave off your dog’s coat. Yes! You heard that right. A dog’s coat is a natural protective layer that acts as a sunscreen and saves it from sunburns and heat strokes in summers. Be sure to leave at least an inch of hair to protect your dog’s skin from sunburns. Do brush your dog’s hair more frequently in summer, as brushing aids in temperature control.
10. Keep an eye on at-risk dogs
Take more care of snub-nosed dogs like a pug or bulldog. They have smaller airways which makes it hard for them to release heat when they pant. Additionally, old and overweight dogs, or those with heart and breathing problems, are more likely to get heatstroke. Do not over exert such dogs and always keep fresh water close by.
Perhaps the most important tip is to pay attention to your dog – you’ll know when he feels uncomfortable. Keep in mind, the scorching heat takes a toll not only on us-humans, but on dogs as well, especially stray dogs. So, whether you are a dog parent or a guardian to one, follow these simple tips to help your Buddy enjoy the sun with safety. Happy Summertime!
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