With some cities hitting triple-digit temperatures, it’s important to remember to keep our dogs and other pets safe during the warm summer months.
It’s already too hot to leave dogs in a parked car for any length of time without air conditioning. Even in the shade, cars heat up fast, and cracking the windows does not help much.
EMS in Travis County, Texas, recommend checking to see if your pet can go inside your destination before you leave home, and leaving your dog at home if not.
Cars aren’t the only danger during the sizzling season. Here are more hot weather pet tips from Travis County and PETA:
Keep dogs inside. They can’t sweat like humans and they’re wearing fur coats. Panting is their main way to release heat, and that won’t be enough when it’s really hot, especially if they’re forced to move around.
Don’t over-exercise your dog in high temperatures. Keep outdoor activity to dawn and dusk as much as possible, not the heat of the day. Carry water for you and your dog, and look for routes with water access, so your dog has a place to get wet and cool off (make sure dogs are allowed).
If you usually run with your dog, how about walking instead? Dogs want to please and can push themselves past the point of risking their own safety just to keep up. If your dog collapses in the heat, it might be too late.
Avoid hot pavement. A general rule: If the surface is too hot for your bare foot, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. If you have to cross asphalt or another hot surface, keep your dog moving (don’t stand). Walk in grass as much as possible.
Don’t put your dog in the bed of a pickup truck. A sudden stop could throw your dog from the truck, or your dog could strangle itself if she’s tethered to the truck and jumps out.
Provide plenty of water and shade for pets when they are outside, and do the same for outdoor animals as well. Account for shifting sun patterns.
Know the signs
Do you know when your dog is getting dangerously overheated? A lot of people don’t. The City of Austin, Texas, posted signs on the hike-and-bike trail a few summers ago urging other people to alert owners when their dogs appeared to be getting too hot.
Heavy panting, breathing or drooling, and restlessness.
A large tongue that appears to “bell out” at the end.
Dry or discolored gums (not easy to spot if your dog has darker gums).
A racing or erratic pulse.
If your dog is “dancing” on a surface, he might be trying to keep his feet cool.
A quick inquiry to dog-loving folks on Facebook and an online search turns up more than a dozen products designed to help keep your dog cool when the temperature rises.
The following are a few tools that can be used before, during or after outdoor activities (most available online and in stores). Remember: None of these tools replaces common sense and care in the heat.
Around the neck: Wet and freeze a bandanna for a simple cooling tool. Two products you can buy (among others): The KoolCollar, a hollow collar filled with a cooling gel tube for indoor use (less messy), or ice cubes for outside ($18 to $20; www.koolcollar4dogs.com). The Chill Collar is a similar product; it's filled with a gel, and you freeze the whole thing before use ($39.95; www.inthecompanyofdogs.com).
Around the body: Swamp coolers and similar products wrap around a dog's midsection for a whole-body cooldown. The Ruffwear version of a swamp cooler uses evaporative cooling to draw out body heat. Soak the vest-like product in cold water and wring it out before putting it on your dog. You can pour more water directly on the vest while your dog is wearing it, too ($59.95; www.ruffwear.com). The Kool Koat, which is made of shammy material that Velcros around the middle, works like a swamp cooler. It can help keep dogs’ rear ends and and bellies cool in the summer. ($20 to $85; www.pettemp.com)
Lounging: Pads such as the K9 Cooling Mat and the Cool Bed Lounger (various styles and prices) provide a cool surface for your dog to recline upon. Another version is the Canine Cooler Therapeutic Pad, which is designed to ease inflammation and joint pain in dogs through a water-filled pad, but could be used for heat relief, too. For instant shade, you can pop up the Portable Pet Shade, a pop-up tent that folds up to fit in a carrying case (all at www.inthecompanyofdogs.com).