The hottest days of summer can be pretty miserable for anyone, but they're especially awful for dogs.
While it's impossible to measure the number of dogs harmed or killed each year as a result of heat-related injuries and illnesses, the fact that these problems are entirely avoidable means any number above zero is tragic. Safeguard your pet against the blistering heat with these five tips.
1. Watch out for short snouts
Owners of snub-nosed breeds have to be especially vigilant in keeping their pets safe from the heat. Although a stubby little nose gives a dog character, it can also cause a number of health issues for her in the summer. These dogs, also known as brachycephalic breeds, have short, broad skulls that can make breathing incredibly difficult in hot environments due to their narrowed nasal passages and soft palates. Affected breeds include bulldogs, Boston terriers, pugs, Lhasa apsos, shih tzus, and Pekingese.
2. Protect against sunburn
Your dog may be covered from head to toe with fur, but that doesn't mean he's immune to sunburn. Since every dog has at least a few weak spots when it comes to sun protection, even the thickest-coated canine is susceptible. What's even worse is that severe burns can lead to conditions like psoriasis, hair loss, and eczema, while repeated burns can result in deadly skin cancer. Make sure your dog is well protected when playing out in the sun. Ear ridges, nose bridges, bellies, and any other areas of exposed skin are prime candidates for sunburn, so guard those places with sunblock and possibly a layer of clothing, and bring your dog inside during the hottest times of the day.
3. Never, ever leave your dog in a car
Although this one should be obvious, sadly, there are new cases of pets dying in hot cars every year. Frankly, one death is too many, and it's an absolute tragedy that dogs continue to suffer and die under such horrific conditions when each death is entirely preventable. On a 90-degree day, temperatures can climb as high as 70 additional degrees in as little as 10 minutes once the air-conditioning is turned off. To make matters worse, dogs aren't equipped to deal with severe heat, and their only available means of coping is to sweat through their paws and pant. Under these conditions, dogs can quickly succumb to heat stroke or violent seizures. So, while it's never a good idea to leave a dog unattended in a car, locking one up on a hot or even a warm day is outright cruelty.
4. Pay attention to H2O and shade
Nothing beats outdoor activities with your dog, but take special care on warm days to ensure her safety. If you plan to be out playing a game of fetch or taking a long walk around the neighborhood, remember that your dog needs to stay hydrated. There are a variety of portable water bottles available in pet stores and online that are made just for dogs, and you can be sure she'll appreciate your decision to bring one along. Take breaks with your dog every so often. If you can find a nice, shady spot to take a breather, you'll spare your dog from overexerting herself, and you might even find yourself enjoying a well-deserved break as well. Also, if you plan to take your dog to the beach, bring an upright umbrella so you'll both have a place to hide away from the scorching sun.
5. Save Those Paws!
If you've ever been to the beach on a hot day without shoes, you know just how painful it can be to walk around on a stretch of ground that's unbearably hot. When it's sweltering outside, streets and sidewalks will also absorb a lot of that heat. Most dog owners will be wearing shoes while they're out and about with their dogs, and sadly many won't realize just how hot the concrete has become over the course of the day. Don't put your dog through this torture! Keep your dog indoors on days when you know the ground is going to be too hot for walking, or, if you have to take your dog out, make sure her feet are covered with clothing or footwear that will protect against the heat.