Summer is here and dog owners and their canine companions are outside enjoying the season.Unfortunately, these wonderful sunny days can also create problems for our dogs so it's important we pay attention both to the weather, the conditions caused by the weather, and to our dogs.
Dogs Rarely Say NoIf you invite your dog to go for a walk, play ball, or go camping, he's going to join you. That's one of the joys of having a dog; they always want to do what we do. Unfortunately, sometimes they will push themselves too far and won't stop until they're too hot. Since your dog won't say no, pay attention to your dog's behavior; in hot weather any behavior change from normal can be a sign he's uncomfortable. Dogs are individuals and many have their own ways to show they're too warm but some of these might include a reluctance to leave the shade, panting, shuffling the feet, and even grumpiness. Have him rest in the shade, offer him a drink of water, and if possible, get him wet. Keep him quiet until he's cooled off.
Know the Signs of Heat StrokeIf your dog is simply hot, keeping him quiet until he's cooled off is usually all that's needed. However, a dog who gets too hot may progress into a heat stroke. The signs of this include a body temperature over 104 degrees, diarrhea, vomiting, depression, stupor, collapse, seizures, organ failure, and eventually death. If your dog begins to show any of these signs, remove him from the excess heat, if possible, and get some cool water on his paws, head, chest and belly. Do not pack him in ice as this could hasten his progression into shock. As you cool him, call your veterinarian for additional instructions. He'll want to see your dog right away but he may instruct you to cool your dog more first as it's vital to lower the dog's temperature before it goes higher.
Beware Hot SurfacesBe careful where you walk your dog during the hot summer months. Last June I used a digital remote thermometer to monitor the surface temperatures outside my home in San Diego. When the air temperature was 85 degrees, the concrete sidewalk reached 105 degrees and the asphalt was 135 degrees. Both of these were hot enough to burn canine paws. If possible, walk earlier in the day or later when the sun isn't heating up the surfaces. If you have doubts about the surface, place your hand palm down flat on the surface; if it's hot to your hand it's going to be hot for your dog's pads. I also teach my dogs to wear boots which protect their paws. I find the RuffWear boots fit my dogs well although there are several makers that produce dog boots. Call the Customer Service department for instructions as to how to measure and fit the boots. If the boots don't fit, they could injure the paws and the dog won't want to wear them.