It’s no secret that summer in Bradenton is hot, but with heat indexes – or “feels like” temperatures – predicted to be in the 100s all week, it’s extra important to watch out for your pets! Even normal activities with your dog could easily turn into a disaster if he starts to overheat, and this can happen in the blink of an eye.
The following tips will help you keep your furry friend safe and comfortable all summer long.
Avoid Hot Pavement
If the pavement is hot enough to burn your hands or feet, it will also burn your dog’s paw pads. When the air temperature is 77 degrees, asphalt can reach 125 degrees, which is enough to cause serious pad burns in as little as 60 seconds. When you consider that temperatures in Bradenton are in the 90’s, it’s not hard to see why hot pavement presents a very real problem.
To keep your dog’s pads safe, try to only walk him early in the morning or later in the evening when the pavement is cooler. If possible, stay on the grass when you walk. Remember, however, that fake grass can get just as hot as pavement, so avoid that as well.
If you absolutely must walk your dog during peak times, consider purchasing paw wax, which will offer some additional protection.
Pay Attention to How You Feel
When it’s super-hot outside, like it is right now, most Floridians want to stay in the air conditioning. Remember that if you’re hot and sweating, your dog is even hotter. Use good judgment when taking your dog outside. If it’s really hot, limit how much outdoor exercise he gets.
If you’re going to spend time outdoors with your dog, make sure there’s plenty of access to shade. Also, never leave your dog unattended outside as it only takes a few minutes in this weather for a dog to overheat and die.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Make sure your dog has plenty of clean, fresh water available at all times. If you’re going to take your dog out for an adventure, don’t forget to bring along a big bottle of cold water and a dish for your dog to drink from. Collapsable water dishes are fairly inexpensive, and it’s a great idea to keep one in your glove box all the times.
It’s easy to get distracted when you’re out having fun. Your dog can’t tell you he’s thirsty, so make sure you remember to offer him some cold water at least once an hour.
If you have a long-coated dog, make sure you brush him regularly to get rid of tangles and mats. Much like taking off a sweater, removing the old hair will help your dog feel cooler.
It’s important, however, that you never shave your pet without first consulting with your vet. For some dogs, shaving will bring extra relief, but for other breeds, the long fur helps keep them cool. Shaving a dog that shouldn’t be shaved will only make him more uncomfortable and more susceptible to overheating.
Watch Out for Sunburn!
Many people don’t realize that dogs can get sunburned too. Short-coated dogs, particularly light-colored ones, are susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer. Any type of dog can also get burned in sensitive areas like the nose, tummy, and ears.
To help avoid sunburn, keep your dog out of the sun during peak hours and provide plenty of shade any time he’s outdoors. If you’re going to be outside in the sun with your dog for a long time, consider applying a pet-friendly sunscreen to sensitive areas. This is especially important for short-haired or hairless breeds. If you think your dog has a sunburn, take him to the vet to get checked out.
NEVER Leave Your Dog in the Car
It seems like this should go without saying, especially in Florida, but we’ll say it again anyway.
NEVER, EVER leave your dog in the car. Not even for one second. Not even if you leave the AC running.
It only takes about 10 minutes for the temperature in your car to increase by 20 degrees. When you consider that temperatures here are already in the high 90s, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how quickly your dog can overheat and die. Even if you leave the car running, there’s always a chance the air conditioning could malfunction and you would come back to a tragedy. It’s just not worth taking the chance.
If you’re not 100 percent sure you can take your dog indoors with you everywhere you’re going, then leave him at home!
Keep Your House Cool
There’s nothing wrong with trying to save some money and reduce your carbon footprint by adjusting your thermostat when you’re not home. If you do this, however, make sure the house remains at a temperature that’s still comfortable for your dog. Generally, it’s a good idea not to set your thermostat higher than 78 to 80 degrees.
Watch Out for Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Bradenton area vets are already seeing catastrophic cases of dogs with heat stroke this summer. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it can’t happen to you!
Although all dogs are susceptible to the problem, dogs with short noses, like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers, are more susceptible to heat stroke because they have shorter airways. This makes it harder for them to release heat through panting.
You’ll also want to be extra careful with older dogs, puppies, dogs that are overweight, or those with heart problems.
Signs of Heat Stroke
If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke, it’s important to rush him to the vet immediately as it can be (and often is!) fatal. Some of the signs of heat stroke include:
- Excessive panting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Red tongue or mouth
- Weakness or lethargy
- Anxiety or agitation
- Glazed eyes
- Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Raised body temperature (104 or higher)
If your dog is overheated, immediately get him out of the sun and into the air conditioning. Wet him down in the shower, with wet towels, or with the hose. The water should be cool, but not cold. Concentrate on wetting the head, neck, armpits, and between the hind legs. Take care not to get the water into your dog’s mouth, as it could get into his lungs. If you can, wet down the ear flaps and paws as well.
If your dog is able to drink cool water, give it to him. However, never pour water into the mouth of a dog who’s unconscious or can’t drink. Also, DO NOT give your dog ice cubes! Doing so could cause his body temperature to drop too fast and make his condition even worse.
Once your dog has cooled down somewhat, take him to the veterinary clinic to be checked, even if it appears that he’s recovering. There’s a good chance he’ll be suffering from dehydration and possibly shock, so he still needs medical attention.
Your Dog is Your Protector: Now it’s Your Turn
Your dog would do anything to protect you, and now it’s your turn to make sure you do the same. With temperatures in Bradenton reaching their yearly highs, some extra precaution is necessary. Now that you know what to do, it will be easy for you to keep your furry friend happy and healthy all summer long!
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