Summer Safety Tips for Your Dog

Hot dog: 5 ways to keep pets safe in hot weather; what to do during heatstroke

Summertime is perfect for outdoor adventures with your dog, but experts warn that pets can quickly overheat, or burn their paws on hot asphalt while out on a walk.

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Here are 5 tips to keep your dog safe this summer, from the U.S. Humane Society: 

1. Avoid hot asphalt: Avoid walking your dog on hot sidewalks with asphalt. Being close to the ground, your dog’s body can heat up quickly and sensitive paws can burn. Try and walk your dog in the grass whenever possible. 

2. Watch the humidity: “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which can take heat away from their body,” said Dr. Barry Kellogg, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels very quickly.”

3. Do not shave your dog: The layers of a dog’s coat helps protect it from overheating and sunburn. Brushing fluffy dogs more frequently can help with excessive heat.

4. Fans are often not enough to keep dogs cool: Dogs respond to heat differently than humans -- for example, they sweat primarily through their feet. Fans are not as effective on dogs as they are on people. Cooling body wraps, mats and other products made for dogs can help. You can soak them in cool water as well. If your dog does well in a bath, a cooling soak can help.

5. Limit exercise on hot days: On very hot days, pets should be limited to walks in the early morning or evening. Dogs with white-colored ears are susceptible to skin cancer. Short-nosed dogs, like pugs, often have difficulty breathing. 

Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states.

Photo: ASPCA

It can be difficult to know when an animal is having an emergency -- experts say the best way to know is to take your dog’s temperature. Any temperature over 104 degrees can put your dog at risk of heatstroke.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs include heavy panting, glazed eyes and rapid heartbeat.
Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Warning signs of heatstroke in dogs: Heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing are all signs the dog might be experiencing a heatstroke. If they excessively salivate, lose consciousness or their tongue turns a deep red or purple color, call a veterinarian immediately.

Animals at highest risk of heatstroke: Any animal that is very old or very young, underweight or not conditioned to exercise are susceptible to heatstroke. Some breeds, including boxers, pugs, Shih Tzus and dogs with short muzzles are exceptionally at risk. 

How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke: Immediately move the dog to an air-conditioned area, and apply ice packs and cold towels to their head, neck and chest. Run cool water over them, but make sure the water is not too cold. Allow them to have small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian. 

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