Summer Heat Affects Dogs More Than People

Summer has arrived and with it the summer heat. Many of you are already enjoying summer activities in the great outdoors. It’s time to take a moment to remind you that your dogs need extra care and precautions when they spend time with you outdoors. Remember that dogs don’t sweat, except through their paw pads and tongue.

molly with boneThat means the heat and humidity affect them more because they are not able to cool themselves quickly and efficiently. On top of that, they are wearing a fur coat! We need to think about that before subjecting our canine friends to jogging at midday or sitting in the sun while we picnic.

Cats are affected too, but few people take their cats to the grocery store, jogging, or on a picnic. Still, water and shade are vital if your cat spends time outside. If she travels with you, never leave her in the car in the heat. Check out our travel tips category for more cat travel ideas.

Light colored dogs and dogs with light eyes and noses are very prone to sunburn and skin cancer too. The same rules apply to dogs as to adults and children. Stay out of the sun during the most intense UV exposure hours, which are usually 10 am to 2 pm. In some areas, those times extend to 4-6 pm (especially in the southwest and desert areas). There are new sun protection products available for dogs, and outdoor enthusiasts should check on these. Don’t use human products without checking the ingredients; some are not safe for pets.

Water is critical. Your dog needs more water than you do. Please remember to carry water while you are jogging or walking, even if you don’t think you need it yourself. A few extra ounces of water could save your dog’s life and prevent overheating. If you have to go out in the hottest part of the day, leave your canine friend at home. If you don’t have a choice, wet him or her down thoroughly and carry water for regular drinks. Never, for any reason, leave him in the car, not even for a minute.

Here are some additional precautions I recommend.

  • Educate yourself about the symptoms of heat stroke.
  • Take a CPR/First Aid class for pets.
  • Buy a copy of a current veterinary care handbook for your dog, cat, bird, or other pet.
  • Make a list of nearby emergency clinics along your route and at your destination.
  • Update tags with current phone numbers and an alternate number.
  • Carry a copy of recent vaccinations and prescriptions, as well as special diet needs.
  • Use a seatbelt or a secure crate for travel, even if it’s only in town.
  • Strap the crate to the seat with the seatbelt or a separate strap.
  • Try out seatbelts and crates before you are ready to travel.
  • Make lots of short trips around town before trying an extended road trip.

If you need more information about travel with pets, check our travel with pets category or send me an email.

I can also offer suggestions about training new pets to travel. It’s critical to plan ahead. Just as your dog didn’t housebreak or learn to walk on a lead overnight, he won’t learn to be an ideal traveling companion in a couple of days.