Heat And Your Dog: What you need to know to keep your furry friend safe this summer!
Summer is a favorite time of year for many people. It means barbecues, boating, skiing, swimming at the pool or lake, hiking, camping, and many other outdoor activities as well. For pet owners, and especially dog owners, it can also spell big trouble – especially for those of us who brave the Scottsdale, AZ, heat every year.
With the first day of summer already upon us and the heat of summer ahead of us, this is a great time to “bone” up on a few safety tips from Syd’s Pet Sitting to help ensure you’re taking the very best care of your best pet friend.
First, let’s start by reviewing the different ways that people and pets are designed to deal with the heat:
People, as most of us know, have sweat glands. These glands are used to help regulate body temperature. When heat activates sweat glands, these glands bring water, along with the body’s salt, to the surface of the skin as sweat. Once on the surface, the water evaporates. Water evaporating from the skin cools the body, keeping its temperature in a healthy range and preventing overheating.
Dogs, however, handle the heat quite a bit differently. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do have sweat glands, called merocrine (or eccrine) glands, located in their paws. But they are very inefficient, and dogs rarely sweat through them anyway. Instead of sweating, dogs actually shed heat through panting. According to livescience.com, “When a dog gets hot, it will open its mouth and breathe heavily. As water evaporates from the dog’s tongue, nasal passages and lungs, this helps lower its body temperature.” Keep in mind, certain canine breeds are brachycephalic. In plain English, this means “short headed”, or what some folks call flat faced. Some of the most common Brachycephalic breeds are the English bulldog, French bulldog, Pug, Pekingese, and Boston terrier, as well as several others. This condition makes it more difficult for your fur baby to breathe, which can spell disaster when it comes to exercise, stress, and (since this will obviously affect a dog’s ability to pant), regulating body heat. Extra precautions need to be taken with these breeds, starting with keeping them in a cool, air-conditioned space as much as possible.
DO give them plenty of fresh, clean water to drink when it’s hot or humid out – which is most of the year in lovely Scottsdale. During heat waves, don’t forget to include some ice when possible!
DO make sure they have a shady spot away from the sun. Doghouses don’t count, since the enclosed space can actually make things worse! Shade from a tree, or even a stretched-out tarp work wonderfully, as they not only provide a cooler, shady spot, and they also don’t restrict airflow.
DO visit your vet and have your best friend checked for heartworms if they aren’t on a year-round plan.
DO become familiar with the signs of overheating in your canine companion. According to the ASPCA, these include “excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.”
Do lightly spray your pooch with water or rub them down with a cool wet washcloth before heading out into the Scottsdale heat for a walk – it will help Fido cool down more efficiently. And it doesn’t hurt to do the same thing for yourself!
An especially important DO: Most people assume that pet sitters and dog walkers are experts on keeping pets cool in the heat; unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. It’s important to ask any pet service professional the tough questions to find out just how much they know about pet health and safety. At Syd’s Pet Sitting, every member of team is rigorously educated on an ongoing basis on how best to care for the pets in our care!
DON’T ever leave your pet in a parked car! Did you know that if the outside temperature is a mere 70*, the inside of your car can easily reach 90? And an 85* day can turn into 100+ in just ten quick minutes, and within 30 minutes can reach temps of 120 or even higher!
DON’T shave your dog. While you may think that you are doing Fido a favor, those layers of fur are actually protecting them from overheating, as well as a potential sunburn.
DON’T let your dog hang out too long on the hot asphalt, including during walks. Not only could it mean a nasty burn on the pads of their feet, it also puts them dangerously close to the rising heat, which can trigger overheating quickly. A good rule of thumb for walks is, if it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot, it’s too hot for your pet pal!
So, now that you know the best ways to help your pet avoid potential heat issues, and to fully appreciate all the wonderful things summer has to offer, it’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy some warm weather fun with your four-legged best friend!
*For a full list of these and other helpful tips, visit www.aspca.org and search “Hot Weather Safety Tips”.
**For Dependable and Professional Pet Sitting (and many other) Services in the Northeast Valley of Scottsdale, AZ please visit https://sydspetsitting.net/