Last week we saw temperatures rise above 90 degrees in all but four states in the Lower 48, according to ABC World News.
Here in upstate New York, the scorching heat drove pets and their concerned humans into our veterinary clinic in Cohoes.
As I write this, just today in the clinic we had a handful of overheated animals, dehydrated pets and a dog whose paw pads had second-degree burns from walking on hot pavement.
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Help Your Dog Beat the Heat
Here are a handful of tips to keep your pet safe from the heat — and out of the veterinary clinic.
- Never leave your pet alone in the car in this type of heat. Even if the windows are down and you are in the shade, you would be surprised on how fast a parked car can turn into an oven.
- Don’t force your dog to exercise in extreme weather. If you have an energetic dog like I do, take him out first thing in the morning or in the evening when it cools.
- When you take your dog out for a potty break, avoid the hot pavement. Concrete heats up and easily reaches temperatures above 110 degrees on warm days. Never leave him standing on the asphalt without an option to get off the pavement. If you live in a city and avoiding pavement isn’t an option, consider using a protective cover or boot such as PAWZ to protect your dog’s paw pads.
- If you take your animal to the beach, make sure there is plenty of shade for him to cool off and fresh water to drink. Rinse your dog free of saltwater to avoid skin irritation or an infection.
- If you must leave your dog outside (which I do not suggest in this heat), offer plenty of clean water and shade. A well-constructed dog house will provide the most amount of relief from the sun as it changes position in the sky.
- Brachycephalic breeds or “squished nose” dogs like pugs, bulldogs and Pekingese should be in an air-conditioned house as much as possible. Outings should be limited to potty time and kept short; these dogs have a higher chance of respiratory distress in extreme weather.
- Dogs that are old, overweight, or have heart or lung problems should be kept indoors and may require special care during hot weather.
- Be aware of coolant leaking from cars. Coolants are known to have a sweet taste and ingesting a small amount can be deadly to your animal.
- If you take your dog to a dog park, check for ample amounts of water and shade. Many populated dog parks have kiddie pools set up to help your dog cool off if he gets too warm.
- If you have a very fluffy dog like a samoyed or a keeshond, consider getting your dog a summer cut to allow him to cool easily. If you do not want to cut your dog’s hair, there are cooling covers that can be fastened to your dog to help him stay comfortable and healthy.
- Dogs that have thin or little hair are more susceptible to sunburn. Invest in a safe sunscreen that is made for pets to keep skin burn-free.
- If you suspect that your pet is having trouble in the summer heat for any reason, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian.
This video shows a local news report with commentary from a vet about the dangers of dogs left in hot cars:
Keeping your animal safe and healthy during extreme weather can be easy enough if you put yourself in your dog’s shoes, so to speak. If you are uncomfortable, chances are your dog is uncomfortable as well. Don’t put your pet in a situation that you would find unsafe yourself.
With a little extra consideration of your dog’s breed and environment, you should be able to help your pet get through this hot summer safely and happily.
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