Extended daylight hours are upon us, offering dog owners more time for longer hikes and rounds of fetch with their best four-footed friends. But PetSmart Veterinary Services Dr. Jennifer Bruns, DVM, MPVM, wants to ensure dog owners are prepared to mitigate heat-related canine health issues. These are the most common culprits.
1: Know Your Dog’s Pace
A 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon through Death Valley might be an adrenaline rush to you, but it’s unlikely your dog feels the same. Regardless of where you fall on the fitness spectrum, placing your dog’s abilities before your own during the summer is vital. Your dog’s age, size, and breed can affect how well they’ll tolerate exercising in the heat.
How to Pace Your Dog
Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. If you don’t know how your dog handles exercising in the heat, observe how much energy certain activities seem to take from them. Overexercising your dog — especially in the heat — can lead to health issues.
Excessive panting, whining during exercise, and stiffness after playing are all signs you need to help your outdoor-loving pooch pace themselves.
2: Life Jackets Aren’t Only for Humans
Approximately 5,000 dogs die each year from drowning. It’s a sobering number that should even make owners of notoriously excellent canine swimmers listen up. No matter how much or little experience your dog has in water, you should always place a life jacket on them that fits their size.
Don’t Rock the Boat
While it’s wise to put a life jacket on your dog when they play on the shore, it’s critical to do so if you take them on a boat. Whether you’re on a motorized boat or a kayak, your dog could fall into the water. And just like humans, no matter how strong of a swimmer your dog is, they only have the energy to paddle for so long.
3: Phew, It’s Hot in Here!
Dogs can suffer from excessive heat just like humans, and panting doesn’t always cut it for helping them to cool down. Unlike humans, dogs can’t communicate their discomfort in words. Dr. Jennifer Bruns says that it can take hours or days for heatstroke symptoms to appear in your dog after they spend too long in the heat. All the while, you may have no idea unless you know what to look for.
Signs of Canine Heatstroke
If your dog displays any of the following signs, immediately move them to a cooler, shaded place. It could be an indication they’re suffering from a heatstroke.
- Excessive panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
4: Hydrate Up
All your pup’s panting when playing outdoors in the summer leads to lost fluid. Even though dogs don’t sweat like humans, they also lose water through their paws and by breathing, urinating, and defecating. It’s vital that you offer them constant access to fresh, clean water so that they can replenish all those lost liquids.
It’s especially important to take breaks from playing or hiking if you have a dog with a lot of stamina. Otherwise, they might not take a water break on their own until a heatstroke is already underway.
Do you have a dog who turns up its nose to water even in the face of the summer heat? If so, it’s time to get creative. Try soaking some of their dry food in a bit of water. You can also give them ice chunks to chew on or place an ice cube in their water bowl.
Bobbing for ice, anyone?
5: Slather on That SPF
Did you know that dogs can get sunburned? The areas where they most commonly get sunburn include their ears, nose, and any place where fur doesn’t cover their skin. You can purchase canine-safe sunscreen from a pet-friendly store like PetSmart.
Dog Breeds Prone to Sunburn
Some dog breeds have a higher chance of getting sunburn than others. Any breed without hair is more prone to sunburn, so you should lather them up with sunscreen all over their body. Other dog breeds that tend to get sunburned often include:
6: Better Safe Than Sorry
Summertime often means road trips for dogs and their owners. But being away from home means that your dog may not be able to find you if they get loose. For this reason, getting your dog microchipped and keeping the information connected with the microchip up-to-date is vital. You should also keep a collar with a tag on your dog at all times when they’re outside.
Want a Free Road Trip With Your Dog?
How does a free summer road trip with Fido valued at $5,000 sound? PetSmart will select ten lucky winners for a custom-designed outdoor vacation with their dogs. This opportunity could be yours by submitting an Arcadia Trail Summer Bucket List Contest application by June 7th.
How to Win a Free PetSmart Road Trip
Are You a Responsible Tourist?
Responsible tourism is at the forefront of many travelers’ minds as they prepare to embark on summer trips with their pets. But what is it, and how can you be a responsible tourist?
Responsible Tourism 101: How to Be a Responsible Tourist
Travel Bucket List Ideas for Retirees
If you want to stay young at heart by exploring the world with your dog, these are 21 must-see destinations during retirement. Options for active and low-impact travelers.
21 Travel Bucket List Ideas for Retirees
This article was produced and syndicated by A Piece of Travel.