When the weather gets warmer and the sun begins to shine, it seems like a great opportunity to get outside and take your dog on a walk or to the park. While this is never a bad thing, some precautions need to be taken into consideration when your pet is outside in the summertime.
The biggest precaution you’ll want to take into consideration is overheating. A dog’s fur traps in heat and a correlation would be if you were to wear a winter coat on a hot day. Light colored dogs with short hair do the best in the sun, and long haired dogs obviously have more problems. Also, dogs with shorter snouts, such as pugs and boxers, will have a much higher likelihood of overheating due to their much smaller nasal cavity. Dogs with shorter hair can sunburn just like you and I. This can obviously be very uncomfortable for your pooch, but can also be life threatening, as some types of dogs develop skin cancer easily.
To combat this, pay attention to your dog. Give him breaks, and if he’s acting lethargic, it’s definitely time to get someplace cool. Dogs tend to play beyond the overheating threshold, so sometimes it is hard to tell exactly when they are feeling the suns effects. In order to prevent sunburns apply a sunscreen to your dog. There are many specialty sun screens that are formulated just for the sensitive skin of your dog. These can be picked up online at such places as Amazon, or even from your local vet. Allow your dog access to a clean, cool water supply at all times. Most of the time if a dog is thirsty, he’ll stop what he’s doing to get a drink if the water is available. Try and pick places with lots of trees so that shade is available. Grassy areas are also best as they are a much lower temperature than concrete.
If your dog does happen to show signs of overheating; lethargy, vomiting, fainting, excessive panting, etc., there are a few steps you’ll want to take immediately. Water and shade are the first things you’ll want to find. Then you’ll want to get your dog cooled down. Dogs pant to cool themselves, but this is very ineffective. Submerge your dog’s paws into cool water and this will help cool him off much faster. Dogs lose a lot more heat from their feet than through panting. Don’t let him over drink, as this can cause vomiting and add to the dehydration problem. Usually you will not need to call a vet, but if your dog continues to present a lethargic condition, or other symptoms persist or get worse, it is definitely time to call a vet.
It’s always a great idea to get you and your dog outside on nice sunny days for exercise, but keep in mind that your dog can’t tell you when he’s getting too hot, so it’s your responsibility to keep him safe.