Safe Summers with Your Dog

Summer is a wonderful time of year! Long days, warm nights, fun road trips… and of course you want to take your best friend with you! Your dog is always ready for your next adventure. As fantastic as it is to have your pup with you all the time, there are many things you should consider during these hot months. It’s important to remember that while dogs try to keep themselves cooler by panting, this is much less effective at higher temperatures.

Here are some hot weather tips that will keep your dog safe and, hopefully, out of our office!

1. NEVER leave your dog in a hot car: 
We know you’ve heard this before, but it’s so important, so we’re going to say it again. Do NOT leave your dog (or any living creature) in the car on warm days. In just a few minutes the temperature in the car can reach dangerous, life-threatening levels. Even at 68 degrees outside, the temperature inside the car can reach 115 degrees in an hour. Dogs die every year in the car by well-meaning pet parents just going inside for a “few minutes”. Leave your pets home on warm days! 

2. Cool paws:
Put the back of your hand against the pavement. Can you leave it there? If it gets too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pup’s paws! Try to keep your dog off of the pavement and keep walks to cooler times of the day.

3. Fresh drinking water and shade: 
Dogs get thirstier than we do when they get hot and panting and drinking water are really the only ways they stay cool. If your dog is outside in the heat, make sure they have fresh drinking water and shade! Heat stroke is a very real, and very serious possibility. If you think your dog has heat stroke, bring them into emergency immediately!

4. Kiddie pool:
Many dogs love playing in the water so filling up a kid’s pool while they’re outside can help them stay cooler!

5. CAREFUL with large pools:
Not all dogs are good swimmers. Some larger pools can also be difficult to get out of if your dog jumps in. Don’t assume that they’re safe just because they can swim. If they cannot get out and get too tired, they can drown. Keep them out of the pool if you’re not supervising!

6. Keep away fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes:
These seemingly harmless bugs are anything but! These pests put your dog at risk for heartworm, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other dangerous conditions. Keep your pet protected with medication, physical removal, and regular checkups. Don’t forget, many of these diseases can be caught by people too!

7. Sunburn:
Dogs get sunburned too! Dogs that have short or light-colored coats are specifically vulnerable. Sunburns are painful for them as well, and overexposure can lead to skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about sunscreen (sunscreen for people is not necessarily safe).

8. Leash your pup!
It’s the time for hikes, lakes, and beaches, and as much fun as your dog would have off leash, the last thing you want is to have them wander off and get lost! There are many areas that ban dogs or have leash requirements. Know the rules and keep your pup safe. 

9. Seawater warning: There was a recent news story of a devastated pet owner that lost his dog after the pup had spent the day at the beach with his owner. The dog consumed too much seawater and died shortly after. Salt water is dangerous when consumed in large quantities. Make sure to bring fresh drinking water and monitor your dog when you play at the beach. 

10. Wildfire smoke: The Pacific Northwest often faces wildfires. Southern Oregon is unfortunately susceptible to long-standing smoke from those fires as it settles in the valley. If the air quality is unsafe for you, it’s unsafe for your pets! Keep them inside as much as possible.

Heat Stroke Symptoms: excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.

  • Animals with flat faces (Pugs, Persian cats, etc.) are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets and pets that are elderly, overweight, or have heart or lung diseases, should be kept in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

Summer can still be fun while keeping your pet safe if you follow the above tips! It’s better to err on the side of caution than to face the loss of a pet. Southern Oregon Vet Specialty Center is open all day, every day for emergency needs. If you think your pet is in distress of any kind, give us a call! We will give you guidance and tell you if you need to bring them in. If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke, bring them in immediately. Stay safe this summer!