Summer time is a wonderful time of vacations, sitting in the sun, and just enjoying the outdoors. However it can also hold many dangers to pets as their time outside and in the heat increases. There are several things to be aware of to make sure you are keeping your canine companions safe.
My dog Kydd hiking with me in the Red River Gorge. Notice he is just starting to get a little bit of a spoon tongue- as discussed later in this article. We made sure to bring lots of water, and quickly stopped once he got too tired.
One of the first safety tips is watching your dog for signs of heat stress. Most individuals are aware that they should never leave their dog in the car along. This is especially true in the summer time as it could be a fatal mistake. The temperature in the car can quickly rise to over 100 degrees or more within the span of just 1-2 minutes. If your are traveling with your pet in the summer time, make sure to bring plenty of water for your pet and a doggy bowl for them to drink out of. I have also found that using a cold wet rag or cooling pet products are great for helping your pet stay comfortable.
Even when dogs are not in the car there are many dangers with the increase in heat. Simple exercises like going for a walk or playing at the dog park can pose the same threats as being in the car. The only way dogs have to cool themselves down is through panting. When it is too hot or too humid outside, this method of body temperature becomes ineffective. To understand this more, think about how this method of cooling works. Blood in your dog’s body circulates to the tongue for an area of heat exchange, theoretically bringing hot blood from the body to the tongue, to be cooled slightly from the temperature of the environment, and then circulate back through the body. When the environmental temperature is too hot or too humid, this mechanism very quickly stops working as the tongue, a muscle, starts to generate heat with increased panting, and the heat exchange can no longer work. When this happens your pet is at risk for heat stroke or heat exhaustion. However, by making a plan for your pet to be outside and watching for signs of heat stress, this can easily be avoided. Look for signs of ‘spoon tongue’ or when the base of the dogs tongue starts to swell and look more like a circle rather than long and straight. Heavy panting and resistance to exercise is also a sign that it may be time to stop.
There are also several products on the market as well as diy projects that you can do to help keep your dog cool. The first is to always make sure your pet stays hydrated. Products to check out are portable doggy bowls that can collapse for easy transport, or water bottles that are dog friendly, such as the lick-able “rabbit style” bottle made by Life is good, or water bottles with a fold out bowl for easy access.
Several companies have also started making doggy cooling packs such as Ruffwear that makes a vest that can be soaked with water to help mimic a sweating activity that the dog is unable to do naturally and help keep the dog cool. Ruffwear and several other companies also make doggy booties which are great for protecting the pad’s on your dog’s feet from getting burned from hot asphalt or concrete.
Ruffwear’s picture of swamp cooling vest. For more information check out ruffwear.com.
Ruffwear’s picture of doggie booties. For more options and information check out ruffwear.com
For more information on the swamp cooler vest or doggy booties check out the link below and see the pictures from Ruffwear above:
Other cooling products to check out are cooling mats for your dog to lay on or cooling collars (chill-out collars)- which are available through online pet product websites generally (such as Dr. Foster and Smith).
If you are looking for easy fixes consider getting a kiddy pool to let your dog lay in, a sprinkler for you pup to play in or even wet bandannas or towels to lay on your dog. For quick cooling, leave a wet towel in the fridge or went bandannas in the freezer to wrap around your dog when he is going outside for a walk or to play.
From the folks here at Circle Tail we hope you and your pets enjoy the summer and stay safe!