Summer is a season of fun in the sun and outdoor activities for dogs and humans alike. As the temperatures rise (and break a few records), it's essential to remember and ensure the safety of our pets. Dogs can suffer from the same problems humans do, like overheating, dehydration, and even sunburn. Dogs, especially, are prone to being exposed to situations where they can become dehydrated. While it’s not our fault that dogs make such great adventure companions, it can be our fault if we don’t keep a close eye on them and ensure they have all their needs met. In this spirit, here are some hints and tips to help keep your pets safe in the summer sun:
1. Stay Hydrated
Always make sure that your pet has access to fresh and clean water, both inside and outside. Dehydration can set in rapidly in high temperatures, be sure to check the water bowl frequently and refill it as needed. We highly recommend having a travel-ready water bowl for your dog if you intend to go out into the summer heat. Additionally, you should be aware of what dehydration looks like in dogs. Here are the most common symptoms of dehydration in dogs:
- Loss of Skin Elasticity: This is one of the most common signs of dehydration, and one of the easiest to check. You can check your dog's skin elasticity by gently pinching the skin at the base of their neck or between their shoulder blades. In a well-hydrated dog the skin will quickly snap back into place. If the skin holds its pinched shape for a few seconds and returns slowly, it can indicate dehydration.
- Dry Nose and Gums: A dog's nose should usually be cool and moist. If it feels dry and warm, it could be a sign of dehydration. Additionally, the gums, which are typically wet, might feel dry and sticky when a dog is dehydrated.
- Thick, Sticky Saliva: If a dog is dehydrated, their saliva may become thicker and might appear stringy.
- Sunken Eyes: Dehydrated dogs may have eyes that appear sunken and lack their usual luster.
- Panting or Rapid Breathing: While panting can be normal for dogs, especially after exercise or in the heat, excessive panting or rapid breathing can be a sign of dehydration.
- Increased Heart Rate: A higher than usual heart rate can be a sign of dehydration or other medical conditions.
- Lethargy: Dogs that are dehydrated might seem less energetic, lethargic, or even depressed.
- Loss of Appetite: A dehydrated dog may show decreased interest in food or might refuse to eat altogether.
- Vomiting or Diarrhea: These can be both causes and symptoms of dehydration. If your dog is experiencing either of these, they can lose fluids rapidly.
- Delayed Capillary Refill Time: Press on your dog's gums until they turn white, then release. In a healthy dog, the color should return almost immediately. A delayed return of the color can indicate dehydration.
If you suspect your dog is dehydrated, it's important to consult with a veterinarian right away! Mild dehydration can often be addressed at home by ensuring the dog has access to fresh, clean water, but severe dehydration may require medical intervention such as intravenous or subcutaneous fluid administration. Always consult with a professional to determine the best course of action.
2. Avoid the Peak Heat
Try to avoid going out with your pet during peak heat hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Instead, opt for early morning or late evening walks. If you decide to keep your mid-afternoon walk, consider letting your dog stay at home. It’s easy to forget that your dogs paws can easily be burned on hot concrete or rocks in a trail. If avoiding the heat isn’t an option, look into pet friendly shoes that keep your dog’s paws safe from burns and discomfort.
3. Mind the Paws
Hot pavement can be painful for your pet's sensitive paws. Test the pavement with the back of your hand: if it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for their paws. If you must go out, consider using protective paw wear or stick to grassy areas with lots of shade. Event dirt trails can become hot enough to burn or scald exposed skin, so don’t disregard the heat just because you’re not on concrete!
4. Use the Right Products
One of the reasons pets might overheat is because of anxiety, restlessness, or just pure excitement! If your dog likes to run around with no care in the world, you may end up struggling to keep your dog from overheating in the summer heat. Honest Paws Calming Chews can be a godsend in scenarios like these. These treats are designed to soothe your pets and help keep them calm, making them less prone to overheating. These chews are a great treat for your dog that contain all-natural ingredients and can be a helpful tool in your summer safety kit, allowing your dog to still get out and have fun (just without the hyperactivity leading to a vet visit, part)!
For pet owners on the go, the Travel Summer Spa Bundle is a must-have. This bundle was made to address the reality of summer: Excitement, adventures, and enjoying the heat. Each bundle includes Calming CBD Peanut Butter Pouches (to help keep your dog calm on even the most exciting days in the hot sun), Dry Shampoo (you know what’s great for summer heat? The beach. You know what smells awful? The beach.), and Relief Paw Balm (accidents happen, keep your dogs paws well taken care of).
Calming CBD Peanut Butter Pouches: Treat your dog to a delicious snack that not only satisfies your pet's taste buds but also helps keep them calm and relaxed. Who doesn’t love peanut butter?
Dry Shampoo: Perfect for those days when you’re too busy to give the dog a full bath, this dry shampoo will keep your pet smelling fresh without the fuss of water. A sure-win for family outings, simply keep it on-hand in case your dog decides it’s time to go roll in something gross smelling.
Relief Paw Balm: This balm is ideal for soothing and protecting your pet's paws, especially after walking on hot surfaces. It provides a barrier against rough terrains and moisturizes their paws, ensuring they remain soft and healthy. You can apply this paw balm to your dog’s paws before an outing, or, you can apply it to a particularly rough paw pad that needs some extra TLC.
5. Provide Ample Shade
If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, ensure there's plenty of shaded areas where they can rest. Setting up a temporary canopy or umbrella can help protect them from direct sunlight. You can even create fun mini dog water parks for your yard by wrapping a mister hose around an umbrella or roof awning. Some cool water in the air can drop temperatures in a small area to a more comfortable level for your dog.
6. Know the Signs of Overheating
Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat exhaustion in pets, which include excessive panting, drooling, increased heart rate, and lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms, get your pet to a cooler place immediately and contact your veterinarian. Remember to never take signs of heat exhaustion or dehydration lightly, if they are not addressed quickly they can lead to permanent damage
As the mercury rises and we keep breaking records for new summer-highs, taking a few precautions can ensure that your pet enjoys the summer as much as you do. Whether it's through calming chews, the right summer products, or simply being mindful of their needs, we can ensure our dogs (and other pets) stay safe and comfortable all summer long.