It’s hot. Really hot. We’re used to it being hot here in the Sacramento area. But it’s hot all over the place, even in places where it shouldn’t be. On average, Seattle has 10 days per year that have high temperatures exceeding 85 degrees—this June, they had eight, and some parts of Washington State exceeded 110 degrees on June 28th. And it’s not just the West Coast, or even the United States. On July 1st, London hit 98 degrees, while Paris topped out at 103.
Keeping cool during high temperatures is critical, and this is the case for your dogs as well. People who aren’t used to hot weather may be the ones who are most at risk of making a heat-related mistake, though accidents happen all over. Too many people forget (or intentionally leave) their dogs in cars, or don’t provide their dogs with enough shelter and water, leading to tragic results. Brachycephalic breeds of dogs, such as bulldogs, boxers, and pugs, are especially vulnerable to heatstroke.
That’s why we put together a list of tips for dog owners to follow during the summer months. We want you and your furry friends to be safe and keep cool during this very hot summer. No matter where in the world you’re reading this, following the tips below can save your dog’s life. Or maybe even your own.
Only go out for walks and potty trips in the first couple hours of the day, or late at night. The weather outside is at its coolest in the very last few hours of the evening, and the first couple hours after dawn. Obviously, sometimes your dog will need to go out in the middle of the day, but save long walks for those precious few cool hours during the day.
Use the air conditioning, not your fan. Fans help people cool down by increasing the rate at which sweat on our skin evaporates, cooling us off in the process. But dogs don’t sweat. So while lying under the fan may feel great to you, it won’t do your dog any good. Make sure that your dog is kept in a cool, air-conditioned environment. Or at least make sure that they have access to a dog pool or some other effective means of cooling off.
Keep an eye out for constant panting, confusion, or lethargy. Like we said above, dogs can’t sweat, so they’re much more prone to suffering from heatstroke. This is especially the case in high humidity, because for panting to work, moisture has to evaporate from the lungs and mouth. When the humidity is high, moisture doesn’t evaporate effectively.
If the air’s hot, then the pavement’s hotter. It’s easy for people to forget about ground conditions, because we wear shoes. But your dog doesn’t. Sidewalks can exceed the ambient air temperature by 30 degrees, and asphalt roads can exceed it by more than 40 degrees. That means that walking surfaces can easily exceed the temperatures necessary for causing serious burns and blisters. One easy way to check and see if it's safe is to take the back of your hand and set it against the road--if you can keep it there for 7 seconds, then it's safe for your dog. If it’s absolutely necessary to take your dog outside on hot paved surfaces, put booties on their paws first.
Keep cool on the inside. There are many recipes online for frozen dog treats (such as this recipe we shared on Pinterest). Giving your pup one of these when it’s especially hot can help him cool off fast. Just be careful about the ingredients, and to make sure not to overdo it (like with any dog treat).
Water water water water water water water. Always have lots of water available for your dog to drink. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, make sure that your dog can get a drink whenever they want.
DON’T leave your dog in the car. Cars heat up incredibly fast. Dogs have died in cars on days where the temperature never hit 70 degrees. So on a hot day, no amount of time is safe for a dog to be left unaccompanied in a car. And it’s not just the air inside the car being hot—the leather seats in a car can reach 200 degrees on a hot sunny day. After the hundreds of needless deaths that have been reported in the news over the last few years, there is no excuse for believing that it’s safe to leave a dog in a car. If the air conditioner in your car isn’t running, then your dog shouldn’t be in the car. If you see a dog trapped in a car on a hot day, call your local fire or police department immediately.
The summer is a great time for you and your dogs to have fun and enjoy the weather. Please just remember to be extra careful on those especially hot days.