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Summer Heat and Your Dog

Here in Ohio, we are having a particularly hot summer this year. The heat brings many dangers to dogs. They are susceptible to heat exhaustion or heatstroke and they can get sunburned. Here are a few tips to help your pooch enjoy the fun and sun safely.

Don't leave your dog in a parked car for any length of time on a hot day. Even when the outside temperature is in the 70s or 80s, the temperature inside a parked car can climb to well above 100 degrees within minutes. It is typically 30 degrees warmer inside a parked car than outside. More dogs die of heat exhaustion in parked cars than any other situation.

Exercise during the coolest times of the day to avoid heat exhaustion. Also avoid the hot pavement which can burn the pads of her feet. Choose the shadiest sides of the street or grassy routes, carry water with you and stop and rest if necessary. Consider hosing down your dog thoroughly before walking to keep him cool. You can also soak a bandana in water and freeze it before putting it on your dog to wear on a walk.

Keep him hydrated. Provide plenty of fresh water at all times. If your dog is outside a lot, be sure to change the water often to prevent algae and bacteria from contaminating the water. Pale colored gums can be a sign of dehydration. Do not give a dehydrated or overheated dog a lot of water to drink right away because they will throw up. It is important to cool an animal down slowly.

Provide shade for your pet when he is outdoors. Be sure there is a tree or large structure he can get under to escape the sun. Be aware that as the day progresses, shade can move.

Consider a child-size wading pool for her to cool off in while outside. Many dogs love the water. Be sure to always supervise her and change the water frequently to prevent bacteria and algae.

Protect her paws from hot surfaces. Delicate foot pads can burn and it is painful for your pet. Avoid walking on hot pavement. Use a hose to cool down concrete or deck surfaces. Never transport your dog in the bed of a pickup truck in the heat of the summer, not only is it dangerous, the hot metal can easily burn their paws.

Consider pet gear that helps cool your dog such as a specially made cooling bandana or mat. You can purchase these at most pet stores or online pet supply companies.

Protect his nose from sunburn. A dog's nose is susceptible to sunburn since it it hairless. Use a sunscreen made for dogs or children on his nose if you will be out in the sun. The tips of the ears may also be susceptible. This is also true for light colored or hairless dogs.

Try rubbing alcohol. A quick way to cool down your pet is to rub their paws with rubbing alcohol, it will quickly bring down their body temperature.

Brush your dog regularly, especially those with thick fur or double coats. Removing loose fur and heavy undercoats will help keep him cool and reduce the amount of heat trapped in the layers of fur. Contrary to some beliefs, shaving your dog for summer is not usually a good idea as it can lead to sunburn.

Be especially watchful with Bulldogs, Pugs and Pekingese breeds which are more at risk for heatstroke due to their breathing anatomy.

The best advice is to keep your dog inside during the heat of the day if possible.

Watch for signs of heatstroke in your pet such as whining, uncontrollable and irregular panting, restlessness, deep red or purple tongue, glazed eyes, drooling, staggering, rapid heartbeat, vomiting or odd or sluggish behavior. If you see these signs, hose him down or put him in a cool or room temperature bath (not cold-the extreme temperature change can cause shock). Call your vet immediately if you suspect heatstroke.