We all love the warm weather, people and pets alike. And while soaking up the sun is loads of fun, it’s not without its risks – particularly to dogs.
As we continue to enjoy consistently warmer days, it is important to keep our pets safe from the heat. Here are a few of the most important tips to beating the heat this summer.
Ease into Exercise
After months of relative inactivity during winter, dogs are eager to go full speed ahead once the warmer weather arrives. Even dogs who love the snow tend to move less during the cold season. To ensure your dog is not overdoing it, begin with light activity and gradually increase intensity over a period of time. Overexertion too soon may put your dog’s health at risk as it can be very hard on their organs, particularly their cardiovascular system. There is also an increased risk of sprains and joint injuries.
Time Your Outings
Hitting up the dog park at noon on a hot day is not a good idea. The best times to exercise your dog is when temperatures are at their coolest. Early mornings and evenings are ideal. This will help to keep your dog from overheating, and will also make their time spent running around more enjoyable. If you must go out in the middle of the day, stick to well-shaded trails.
Also, give consideration to the surfaces your dog will be running on. Pavement and sidewalks can get very hot during the day and may burn the sensitive pads of the feet. Stick to grassy areas and dirt trails instead.
Stay Hydrated and Cool
Whether your dog is active or not, proper hydration is critical. The simple act of sunbathing in the backyard on a hot day is enough for certain dogs to overheat, potentially leading to heat stroke. Dogs do not sweat like people; they have sweat glands in their feet, but this does little to keep them cool. Panting is also a rather inefficient cooling mechanism, especially when the air is hot.
Dogs should have access to fresh, cold water and shade at all times. For those water-loving pooches, setting up a 'kiddy pool' will provide a wonderful cool-down space and offers unlimited fun at the same time.
Did you know dogs can get sunburns? Dogs with short coats, thin hair, and light skin are especially susceptible to burns and skin-related cancers. If your dog is going to be exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time, use a pet-friendly sunscreen (containing both UVA and UVB blockers) on exposed areas.
Use Common Sense
Never leave your dog in a hot car. Ever. This may seem like common sense to most, however every summer there are numerous cases of dogs dying after being left in a hot car. It takes mere minutes for a vehicle to reach deadly temperatures, even if parked in shade. Even if the windows are open. If you have to run an errand, please leave your pet at home where it is safe.
Make a Fun Treat
Use this recipe to make an exciting summer treat for your pooch:
1 cup water or broth
¼ cup peanut butter
A handful of blueberries, chopped banana, or cubed meat
Mix liquid and peanut butter in a blender until smooth. Add in fruit or meat of your choice. Pour into a bowl or Tupperware container and freeze. Let your dog enjoy this fun treat outside on a hot day – they’ll love it!
No matter how much time your dog spends outdoors this summer, take the necessary precautions to ensure you can safely enjoy your time together.
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty years’ experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.com.