Keep your pup cool during the dog days of summer
Most people look forward to the warmer temperatures of summer and the activities they bring -- picnics, pool parties and time in the garden or playing golf.
When the mercury in the thermometer rises too high, we find ways to keep ourselves cool. But dogs need our help to keep them cool in those dog days of summer.
We would never consider leaving a child in a parked car for even a few minutes on a hot summer day, and we should never leave a dog in a parked car either. Even on 70-degree days that feel cool and comfortable to us, the temperature inside a parked car can reach up to 90 degrees while you run into the grocery store for just a few things.
In the time it takes to shop for a week's worth of groceries, the temperature inside a parked car on a hot, sunny day can cause severe illness and even death. If you aren't shopping at a pet-friendly store, leave Fido at home.
And if Fido is spending his time outside while you go to the store, be sure he has a shady spot in a grassy area where he can escape from the hot sun. And make sure to give him a big bowl of fresh water to drink. Adding some ice cubes will keep the water cool longer. Better yet, keep him inside in the air conditioning.
Exercise is important for pets (and their owners) in summer just like the rest of the year, but on hot days, go for your walk or run together in the morning or evening when temperatures are at their coolest. Provide plenty of water during and after long walks and runs. Skip your exercise altogether if it is too hot.
Consider the surfaces where your dog runs or walks. Our tennis shoes protect our feet from hot asphalt and sandals guard them from sizzling wood decks, but a dog's unprotected paw pads can burn. If it is uncomfortable for you to walk barefoot on a surface, it is too hot for your dog's paws, too.
Depending on your dog's breed, a haircut can also help keep him cooler in summer. Regular brushing rids coats of extra hair and mats, keeping your dog cooler.
Not all dogs like to swim, but some breeds love it. Either way, they should be supervised around pools. If he is allowed to swim in your pool with the family, remember to rinse the chlorine off his fur before he heads back in the house.
Taking Fido out on a boat? Be sure he is wearing a doggy life jacket just in case he falls overboard.
Most dogs love to splash around in a kiddie pool. Throw in some favorite waterproof toys to enhance the fun. Or set up a sprinkler and watch him romp through the water.
It is normal for dogs to pant when they are hot, but excessive panting can be a sign of heat stroke. Other symptoms of dehydration and heat stroke include lethargy, decreased appetite and urination, vomiting, increased heart rate, and bright red gums and tongue.
Dogs with short noses, like pugs and bulldogs, or black or dark brown fur are more prone to heat stress. Dogs carrying extra pounds, older pets and those with medical problems, like heart or lung disease, are also more sensitive to hot temperatures.
If you suspect your dog is suffering heat stroke, call your veterinarian immediately. Lower his body temperature by wrapping him in cool (but not cold) wet towels until you can get to the vet.
• Diana Stoll is the Practice Manager at Red Barn Animal Hospital with locations in Hampshire and Gilberts. Visit redbarnpetvet.com, or call (847) 683-4788 (Hampshire) or (847) 422-1000 (Gilberts).