As an experienced veterinarian in Arizona, I want to reiterate the heat dangers for dogs during our brutal summer months in Arizona.
If you’ve lived in the East Valley for any time at all, you know that our summer really runs from April through late October, so this is the time of year we all need heightened awareness of the dangers of extreme heat to our furbabies.
We are looking at our first 100f days of the year this week, so here are some often said, but all to often overlooked, heat safety tips so you and your pooches can enjoy a safe summer together.
Heat Dangers For Dogs
PROVIDE PLENTIFUL WATER & SHADE
We all know the importance of staying hydrated in our hot weather, and the same is true for your dogs. Make sure they always have a plentiful supply of fresh, clean water. The best place for your dog when the temperature rises is inside in the air conditioning, but IF you have to leave them outside, make sure that there is enough shade for them to stay out of the sun. Remember the sun moves, so an area that is shady in the morning may not be shaded in the afternoon. Make sure they have the ability to find relief from the sun all day long – again, ideally inside!
With summer at our doorstep, it is important for us hoomans, as responsible pet parents, to be aware of not only the air temperature…but what that means for asphalt/sidewalk temperatures. As a general guide, if it is too hot for the back of your hand, it is too hot for your dogs feet!
If you have no alternative but to take them out, why not consider some boots to protect their feet, if they have to go out during the heat of the day? Ideally, walking during the very early morning or late evening is better. Here are some things to look out for in dog shoes!
- Easy to put on/take off. I’ve yet to come across a dog who gets excited at the thought of putting booties on – they don’t know it’s for their own good! So, make sure they are easy to get on/take off – but that they are secure so they don’t come off when you don’t want them to!
- High quality. There are some very cheap booties out there; a client told me they bought a more affordable set for their German Shepherd and they didn’t last two days.
- Sturdy. A tough, thick sole will not only protect them from the heat of the asphalt, but rough trails when hiking (think volcanic rock – have you walked on that barefoot?), and more.
- Reflective. It’s cool to be seen! Reflective strips help ensure your dog (and you) are visible if you’re out at after dark or early in the morning.
- Breathable. The same as for your own feet, breathable material is always preferable if you’re doing some hot weather hiking.
Swimming is great exercise and a great way to cool for your dog, just like it is for us. BUT, don’t assume that “Because it’s a dog, it can swim.” While swimming does come naturally to some breeds, others may need some training and teaching. Lifejackets can be worn to build confidence and prevent drowning if dogs are just learning to swim.
To help keep their skin and coat in good order, dogs should always be rinsed off with regular water after swimming, whether you have a chlorine pool or a salt water pool. Cleaning their ears with a proper ear cleaner can help prevent ear infections due to water sitting in the ears after swimming. Ask us for a recommendation at your next appointment! Showering and bathing your dog during summer not only keeps their coat looking nice, it’s a great way to keep them cool if you don’t have a pool!
Here’s another couple of things to note on the subject of swimming: Don’t forget that while the pool water may be cooling, the surfaces around the pool are likely to be toasty. If your dog likes to run around the pool perimeter, playing with the kids, then slick surfaces could lead to slips and strains. If you have a real sun worshipper – some breeds love to lounge in the sun – don’t forget that sunburn is possible if they sunbathe for too long.
DOGS DIE IN HOT CARS!
It’s been said so often, but it still happens all too often. This infographic from the ASPCA tells you all you need to know – feel free to download and share. Don’t leave your dog in a car for any reason.
If you’re heading out to cooler climes with your pooch to get away from the heat and you’re venturing our beautiful forests up north, be sure to check for ticks. The most common tick in Arizona is the Brown Dog Tick. After feeding, ticks are big enough to spot and feel like a small bump on your pet’s skin. Run your hands over your dog’s body after a hike to check for them. They tend to attach themselves to areas around a dog’s head, neck, ears and feet. The sooner ticks can be removed the better.
Always remember that summer is snake season in Arizona, so always be alert and aware of your and your dog’s surroundings. Keep them on a leash and stick to well-worn trails. Don’t let them stick their noses into dark cracks or crevices – there may be a nasty surprise waiting in that cool, dark hole!
Questions? Contact Compassionate Animal Care
I know that it seems that a lot of these tips are common sense, but unfortunately veterinarians in Arizona see the results of mishaps and poor judgment every day during summer. Heat stroke is no joke, and it needs to be avoided. I wrote a blog post last June where I detailed things to do and things not to do if you suspect your dog has heat stroke – refresh yourself on that here.
You can find lots more information on the dangers of heat on the ASPCA website. As always, if you have any concerns about your pet, please talk to your veterinarian. Call 480.774.6995 to schedule an appointment with Compassionate Animal Care today.