With temps hovering stubbornly in the triple digits, it’s a good time for safety reminders and “stay cool” tips. Whether you live in an urban environment or the quiet countryside, there are some simple strategies that can help you and your dog enjoy your summer adventures.
Exercise early in the day. Getting Sasha out for a long walk means starting just after daybreak, before the sun climbs above the trees. Even then, days with high humidity tend to leave both of us guzzling water and taking multiple breaks along the way. The lure of dew-soaked grass usually proves irresistible, with Down-Stay her default comfort position every time we take a break.
Carry water with you. You don’t need anything fancy–just something you can easily carry. I keep two squeeze bottles on hand for Sasha that clip on my belt. When she wants a drink, she’ll plop down on the grass and wait for me to flip the bottle and squeeze water into the drinking tray.
Use the 7-second rule. Asphalt, concrete, and brick–all commonly found in sidewalks, streets, and patios–quickly absorb and retain heat, making it dangerous for your pet’s paws. Test the heat by pressing your palm (or bare foot) against the pavement. If you can’t hold it for more than 7 seconds without discomfort, it’s too hot for paws! You could invest in booties or special paw wax, or just walk in the coolest part of the day. Whenever possible, stay off pavement by walking on the grass. And once you’re home again, check each paw carefully for raw spots and signs of swelling or burning. If you have questions or concerns, contact your vet for advice.
Never leave your pet in the car. Even if your vehicle has an efficient air conditioning system, remember that it’s almost always warmer toward the back of the vehicle. I drive a small SUV and even with the rear seats down and tinted rear windows, Sasha could easily overheat. If we absolutely have to travel during the heat of the day, I use the travel crate with mesh on three sides and position it so Sasha enjoys the cool air streaming from the vents. Fresh water and a battery-operated fan help keep her comfortable, too.
Here’s a quick list of suggestions from PetFinders.com:
Watch out for health hazards. Ticks, fleas, bee stings, snake bites, poisons, stagnant water (full of bacteria and parasites) and heat stress–any and all of these can turn a carefree summer outing into a bad situation without warning. You can lower some of the risk by keeping your dog on regular flea and tick prevention, removing potentially poisonous materials from your yard, keeping fresh water readily available, providing cool shelter, and maintaining a basic first-aid kit for dogs. You can buy a pre-packaged kit or put one together yourself. The website Irresistible Pets has a great article complete with a list of all the essentials you should consider when compiling a kit for your own pets. Your vet might have kits available, too, so be sure to ask!
Recognize the danger of heat-related stress. Heat may be the most significant of all summertime hazards. Whether your pet is at home, in the car, or vacationing with you, know the signs of heatstroke and have a plan in place to deal with heat-related stress. Here’s a terrific infographic from Murdoch University’s Pets in Summer Series that’s definitely worth bookmarking or downloading for future reference. (Click to enlarge image.)
Take care of yourself, too. Wear lightweight protective clothing–and that includes a hat. Drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, take frequent breaks if you must work outside, and whenever possible limit outdoor activities to the coolest part of the day.
According to the Red Cross, extreme heat kills more people than any other weather event. You can download their Extreme Heat Preparedness Checklist here. (That’s available in multiple languages, by the way; see the language options here.) Scroll down that page and you’ll see a section on planning for emergencies and disasters “Preparation Tips for the Whole Family” including your pets.
With careful planning and attention to detail, you and your dog can enjoy the best of summer!
Have a favorite keep-cool strategy? Post a comment and let us know!