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10 Tips for Keeping Pets Safe in Hot Weather

Here in Loudoun County, record heat has arrived and summer is only beginning. Here are ten tips to keep dogs safe in hot weather.

Heat stroke isn’t uncommon in dogs, yet it is almost always preventable.

1. Dogs Don’t Sweat It: Dogs aren’t as efficient at self-regulating their body temperatures as humans. Sweating turns out to be a more efficient way to keep cool compared to panting. Dogs do sweat some from their paw pads, so if you see little footprints, it may mean your pup is sweating.

WARNING: If you see a dog’s tongue hanging out of the side of the mouth, and it looks swollen, odds are your dog is overheated, and that could lead to heat stroke. Stop whatever it is you’re doing; ensure the pup is stable and find a cool place to go. If you have any doubt, find a veterinary clinic close by.

2. Different (Heat) Strokes for Different Folks: The brachycephalic breeds – those are dogs with “pushed in faces” and limited airways have a limited ability to keep cool. Examples include the Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, French Bulldog, Japanese Chin, Pekingese the Pug, and others. For these dogs, a 75-degree day that feels comfortable for us, may be stifling. So, imagine what it feels like to these dogs when it’s over 90 degrees, even more so if the dog is overweight. It literally may be hard to breath. And these dogs, in particular, are prone to heat stroke. Even a two-block walk in warm weather that we think nothing of, especially with high humidity, can be grueling to any brachycephalic dog. It’s not unusual to see these dogs or also very large dogs, like the Newfoundland or Great Pyrenees, just stop in their tracks, and lie down. The dog is trying to tell you something.

3. Not Getting Any Younger: Just as it is in people, age is a factor in dealing with heat. Elderly dogs just can’t cope like they once did.

4. Spoiled and Cool: Just as we are spoiled by air conditioning, so are our dogs and cats. They may not be as acclimated to extreme temperatures as our great granddaddy’s dogs were because they’re not exposed as often. It’s unfair to expect dogs to sit in a backyard when it’s 90 degrees if they are not accustomed to those temperatures. And to do so without shade and water is downright inhumane and potentially dangerous, and may be considered unlawful animal abuse.

5. Time of Day: Of course, for your comfort as well as your dog’s, walks and definitely runs should be early in the morning or after sunset. Be sure to bring water (for you and especially for the dog).

6. Jump In (Maybe with a life vest): Just as swimming pools are appealing to us when it’s really hot, the same is true for dogs. Do consider that Pugs, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese and others are likely to sink like a rock should they jump (or fall) into a swimming pool. Life vests for dogs might be a lifesaver, and so is adult supervision. Even the Michael Phelps of the dog world, like Labradors or Newfoundlands, can’t swim forever; ensure they have an easy route to get out of the pool.

7. Beware of the Water: Water can bring other problems too. Beware of the dangers of blue green algae in lakes, ponds and rivers. Sometimes you can see it’s there and sometimes not. Many communities monitor bodies of water for this toxin, potentially lethal to dogs and can also cause serious illness in people. Also, lurking in fresh water may be a bacterial infection called leptospirosis, which is spread by urine of infected animals, from rodents to infected dogs and coyotes to infected farm animals to name a few.

8. Cool Pool: One totally safe way for dogs to keep cool are kiddie pools filled with about 8-inches of water. No dog can drown here, yet the pup can lie down or splash about. Periodically add some ice to keep the water cool. (However, freezing cold ice water is a bad idea for hot dogs.)

9. The Asphalt Dance: When it’s 85 degrees and sunny, midday asphalt can exceed 150 degrees. Of course, given a choice dogs will avoid walking on a surface that hot and might even burn paw pads. However, being on a leash, dogs don’t have a choice. If you can’t keep your hand, palm-down, on the asphalt for around two minutes, it’s too hot. When dogs “dance” on hot asphalt, it’s not to entertain us. Sometimes minor burns can’t be easily seen by non-professionals but it doesn’t mean those dogs aren’t in pain.

10: Dogs Die in Hot Cars: According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ,in 2022 at least 85 dogs died in a hot car. No doubt that number is likely higher, as not all occurrences are reported. On a 90-degree day, a car will heat up to well over 100 degrees in 10 minutes, even with windows open a crack. That’s a potential death sentence. It’s not a myth – dogs do die in hot cars, and it continues to happen far too often.

For additional resources, or if you have any questions during the hot summer days with your pets, please give us a call at 540-338-5888.


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