Yesterday we had the first 100 degree day of our Arizona summer!
Once the weather makes its shift to warmer weather there a several adjustments that need to be made…
I swap out my boots for flip flops, sign up for ballet barre (since it’ll be tricky hot to roller blade) and I get out my dog’s summer gear… which I’ll share more about in a minute.
All this got me thinking about how much I’ve had to re-learn about dog’s hot weather health and safety since I got my new pup a couple years ago.
I was stunned by what I didn’t know, and I bet you will be to…
Please read on, share and advocate for our sweet companions whenever you can…
1. Your dog’s paws WILL burn.
If you cannot hold your bare hand to the pavement, sand (or dirt, yes, even dirt) for at least 5 seconds, it is too hot for your dog’s feet. Start checking the ground temperature when the air temperature is around 80 degrees.
DON’T let them stand on hot pavement when you get in or out of the car. Don’t make them run across the hot asphalt into the pet store, the scorching sand to the waves, or to the grassy spot on the other side of the burning hot dirt. And don’t use booties, which cuts off most of their ability to cool themselves.
- DO Carry them, leave them home or walk at a time of day that the pavement, sand or dirt has cooled.
- DO use a paw wax to help buffer them from the heat. NOTE: This does not keep paws from burning on pavement that is too hot, but it does give a small degree of protection and more comfort against minor heat. I use and LOVE Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protector Wax, smearing it on and between the pads of his feet.
2. Panting DOES NOT always cool your dog.
A dog’s body temperature ranges between 100 and 102 degrees. If the temperature outside is hotter than their body, it renders their panting practically useless and they CANNOT cool themselves properly.
DON’T leave your dog, nor take your dog outside if it is 100 degrees or more without a cooling vest (check manufacturer to see how long it cools). I just did some research and ordered a new one by Ruffwear for Vito. It cools through an evaporative effect. Dry on the outside, wet in between the layers and cooling against their skin. Your dog should be dry for it to work properly.
DON’T EVER leave your dog in the car if it’s hotter than 70 degrees. Even when it’s nice outside, the interior temperature of a car can soar 25–30+ degrees in a matter of minutes. Even if it is around 70 degrees outside and you decide it’s safe, always leave windows open and lots of fresh water…
- DO take them inside with you if you can carry them, otherwise leave ‘em home in the air conditioning.
3. Spraying your dog with water DOES NOT cool them down.
Spraying water on a dog may feel cool to them for a moment, but since their skin has no pores – much like a scuba suit — being wet is not cooling like it can be to us. Instead, it’s more of a wet blanket effect.
DON’T spray your dog down to cool them off. It doesn’t work!
- DO take them to the pool, lake or ocean. Swimming can be great summer exercise and loads of fun! But remember. If it’s 100 degrees or more outside, the only thing cooling your dog is the water. Once they are done with their swim it’s like they’re in a rubber suit… they are not cooling as they dry like we do. Dry them and put a cooling vest on them, or get them back inside right away.
4. Hiking, running, biking can literally kill your dog.
Other than greyhounds and some sled dogs, your dog’s systems are not built for long distances… regardless of the weather.
DON’T think that because your dog is smiling he must be happy. Dogs love their humans and want to be near. They will run until their heart bursts to please you. I know two people who have lost their (young & healthy) dogs… one to heart failure from chasing rabbits in the desert and the other from heat exhaustion while on a hike with her owner. Sorry to be bleak, but it’s a reality we need to know about.
If you hike or run them long distances (longer than a mile) chances are they may be suffering, or incurring gradual stress on their heart, which can shorten their life (and quality of life) considerably.
DON’T let them run or chase balls at the dog park (even in the shade) for more than a few minutes at a time. They can easily overheat, and flip into heat exhaustion. A cooling vest will help with this, but be vigilant.
-DO take them for a regular WALK before or after the heat of day, and when the pavement is cool.
-DO teach them to walk on a treadmill (never leave them unattended).
-DO make an indoor toy. My absolute favorite is a long fluffy toy tied to the end of a horse’s lunge whip. It looks like a massive cat toy! Not only does my very high energy dog get to burn energy. He LOVES it! But only use it on soft footing (no tile floors, pavers, pavement, etc…because it will tear up their feet) If you don’t have a large enough carpeted room inside, try a shady spot of grass. But, again… watch the time, temperature and use a cooling vest.
5. Cutting your dog’s hair can make them hotter!
There is no doubt that a dog with thick shaggy hair can benefit from a trim. But, DON’T cut it too short. The downy undercoat, can actually insulate them from the heat.
- DO check with your vet or groomer to find the best length. Even so, all of the same tips apply that I’ve listed above.
One final thought... for their nose, ears, bellies and all short-coated dogs a good 30 spf canine sunblock is key. I use, Epi-Pet sunscreen because my vet warned me about effectiveness and toxins in human sunblock when used on dogs. Frankly my dog hates the spray. But, bully dogs like mine are especially prone to skin problems, so I cover his eyes and snout and spray him everywhere behind his shoulders — especially the underneath which often can get burned from the light reflection. Then I spray into my hands and rub a bit on his ears and nose and we’re good to go.
I hope you will use and share these tips…. I was surprised when I realized all the misinformation I had absorbed. And, I am grateful we can let go of those old ideas together and embrace a healthier and safer way to show our dogs how much we love them.
If you have any questions or comments, I welcome them. If you want to know more about my favorite pet supplies click HERE.
But first, I’d love it if we can make this thing viral! Let’s get this out there, educate our fellows and protect our faithful loving companions. Please Email it, Facebook, Tweet, LinkedIn… everywhere.
My pup and I thank you, and we are definitely in your corner….
Thais (and Vito)
p.s. Just to show you some extra love our “Top Dog” tees are $15 off with the code SUMMERDOGSAFETY15 at checkout. But, only through midnight on Sunday May 5th. Get one for yourself and one for a friend in our shop... as many as you want, $15 BUCKS off each “Top Dog” plus free shipping. Woof!
Blog image photo credit: Amarand Agasi via photopin cc