Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The heat of summer is upon us! My doggie, Bear, may be getting old but she still loves to romp in the back yard or simply lie under a tree and nap. Fresh air is good for dogs, and you may think that heat is better for your dog than cold but there are several ways in which both heat and sun can harm your dog.
Rule number one is to always make sure your dog has plenty of fresh, cool water and a shady or covered area to lie down and relax. We’ve discussed other summer safety tips for dogs here on the Responsible Pet Ownership blog, but let’s focus this time on sun safety.
You might assume that because your dog is covered in fur he’s unlikely to suffer any problems from the sun, but let me surprise you! There’s more to me than a sappy doggie mommy who has been trained to dole out the CANIDAE TidNips. I know some stuff!
Sunscreen can help prevent your dog’s nose and ears from getting sunburn. These are sensitive areas and are exposed even if there is hair on the dog’s ears. Keep in mind that light colored dogs are similar to folks with very fair skin — they will burn faster than dark dogs. Some dogs have thick coats while others have thinner coats. Poodles that have been freshly groomed have quite a bit of exposed skin for sunburn, so it is important to keep a close eye on them when they are playing in the sun.
Sun and Pavement are a Bad Combination
Heat and sun can make the asphalt and concrete of roads and sidewalks burning hot. No matter how tough your dog’s feet may seem, hot pavement can burn their pads causing terrible sores and pain. Keep in mind that if you wouldn’t want to walk on it barefoot, you shouldn’t expect your dog to either. Also, your dog perspires through his foot pads so the more heat that’s underneath his feet, the less able he is to cool himself down. The same goes for hot sand at the beach. If it makes you hop and reach for your flip flops, then don’t make your dog walk on it.
Wait 30 Minutes
Just like that old rule for kids about swimming, you should wait 30 minutes after your dog eats before you encourage him to run and play in hot sunshine (or swim for that matter). This will prevent vomiting and upset stomach from romping on a full stomach in high heat.
Sunshine Leads to Overheating
While sun and outdoor time is good for your dog overall, it’s important to be aware that direct sunlight takes its toll on your dog and can lead to heat stroke and other problems. Older dogs and those who are overweight or who have any sort of heart or lung condition should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Early morning or late evening walks are best for dogs that are at risk.
I could go on about the dangers of high temperatures for dogs, but one thing sticks in my mind, and that is the danger of leaving a dog in a parked car. Even if it’s a fairly temperate day, a closed car can turn into an oven in minutes. Never leave your dog in a parked car in the summer for any amount of time, no matter how short. That doesn’t mean you should deprive them of a beloved car ride – just don’t park and leave them sitting.
Top photo by Dan Harrelson
Bottom photo by Don DeBold
Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie