Friday was the first day of summer. Summer means warm weather, picnics, swimming, fireworks, and simply more time spent outdoors. If you have a dog, you may want your dog to join you for some summer fun. Here are five safety tips so your dog can safely join in.
Don’t leave your dog in the car. Even if the windows are open and you park in the shade, your car will heat up to dangerous temperatures in minutes. If you can’t take your dog with you, leave them at home.
Know the signs of heat stroke. Dogs don’t sweat (except a little bit through their paw pads) and they rely on panting to stay cool. If you’re playing outside, be careful not to over exercise your dog, even if they look like they’re having a great time chasing tennis balls around the yard. Your dog may overheat and start to show signs of heat stroke. Here is a list of signs, from mild to severe.
- Heavy panting and difficulty breathing
- Bright red tongue and mucous membranes
- Thick saliva
- Bloody diarrhea
- Gray lips and mucous membranes
If your dog has any of these symptoms, start cooling your dog down immediately. Move the dog into the air conditioning, spray him down with cool water (not ice water), place cool packs around your dog’s groin area, and wipe his paws with cool water. Monitor your dog’s rectal temperature and stop cooling your dog once his temperature drops below 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. If you have an SSD dog in training, be sure to contact the puppy coordinator.
Avoid walking on hot pavement. Unlike people, most dogs generally don’t wear shoes. Spending too much time on hot pavement can burn their paw pads. Try to walk your dog on the grass or in the shade, if possible. If you have a working dog, try to minimize the time your dog needs to walk on pavement.
Make sure your dog has plenty of cool, fresh water. Your dog should have cool water to drink. If you happen to have a baby pool, you can fill it with cool water for your dog to wade in. However, be careful about giving your dog ice. The sudden coldness can cause severe muscle spasms that can lead to bloat, which can be deadly.
Groom your dog. Good grooming will keep your dog’s hair from getting matted, which can trap heat. By regularly grooming your dog, you can also spot fleas and ticks. Since the bugs come out with the warm weather, it’s always a good idea to make sure your dog is up to date with his flea and tick and heartworm medications.