It’s officially summer, which means barbeques, going to the beach, and picnicking are becoming regular activities … but we also have that dreaded summer heat. Most of us already know how to protect ourselves from the scorching sun, but how about our helpless little furry friends? They need the same amount of protection as we do.
As many of you know, dogs do not perspire like humans do and they commonly cool themselves down through panting; but because of the summer heat, it’s harder for dogs to cool down because they’ll only breathe in hot air. With that, we should keep in mind some summer dangers that our little friends might encounter.
If you don’t read the rest of this article just remember these two benchmark temperatures.
If it’s 75 degrees the asphalt will be too hot for your dog to walk on.
If it’s 60 degrees it’s too hot to leave your dog in the car.
LEAVING DOGS IN THE CAR
The last thing we want to do is leave our dogs in the car, but it happens more often than we realize. Leaving our four-legged friend in a parked vehicle needs to be avoided since temperatures rise quickly, leading to heat stress and suffocation.
Most charts, such as the one below, state to never leave your pet in the car when it’s over 70 degrees. That said, keep in mind that even 60 degrees can be too hot if your car is exposed to direct sunlight.
Smooshy-faced breeds (Boston terriers, pugs, Frenchies, and bulldogs) and senior dogs tend to be more susceptible to the heat.
Bottom line, if you’re going to do errands and cannot bring the dogs with you inside the store then leave them at home.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE AN ANIMAL IN A CAR
A California law that went into effect in January states that if you’re concerned for a vehicle-bound animal’s safety and you can’t find its owner, then you’re legally allowed to break into the car to rescue the dog — but only if you call the authorities first. You would be expected to wait with the dog until an authority (animal control, fire department, law enforcement or 911 emergency services) arrived at the scene. There is an understanding that if you follow this process then you would be free and clear of any liability that usually comes from damaging someone’s property.
Heat stroke is an increase in normal body temperature and can happen to our dogs. It is when dogs are exposed to severe hot and humid conditions. A normal body temperature for a dog is 99.5-102.5° F, and anything that is at least 103.5° F is considered a fever. Dogs can die of heat stroke if they are not helped in time. So if your dog, or any dog, is overheating then you need to act fast.
Here are warning signs that a dog is suffering from heat stroke:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Dry red gums
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Change in mental state, like not responding how they normally would
As heat stroke advances, it can cause seizures and even death. If your dog is showing any of these signs, stop whatever you are doing and start cooling them down immediately. You can quickly cool down a dog by:
- Moving them to shade or a cooler location
- Having them drink cool water, not cold
- Using a fan to blow air or create air movement
- Covering them with a wet towel
Another thing to consider when playing under the sun with your pup is sunburn. Dogs can get sunburnt too, and the most common symptoms are reddened skin, blistering, and your dog’s vocalization of pain when touched. You can keep your dog from getting sunburned by using a sunscreen that has no zinc oxide, which is toxic for dogs. In addition, make sure to control the amount of sun your dog is getting and make sure they are getting enough shade. Lastly, when walking dogs, remember that the time of the day is relevant. You can choose to walk them early in the morning to avoid the hottest parts of the day, such as noon.
During the summer months, ground surfaces can be especially dangerous for our dog’s paws. Their paws are thinner than our feet, so if it’s hot for you, it’s the same for your dog. Dog skin is different from human skin. We may think that their skin is fine because they don’t have blisters, but problems can arise after prolonged exposure, especially if it’s too hot.
- 120 degrees F: is the initial pain threshold for direct skin contact without permanent damage.
- 140 degrees F: burns permanent damage and scarring after one minute of contact.
- 150 degrees F: rapid burns and blistering
Keep in mind the air temperature is considerably cooler than asphalt temperature. When a heat sensor is used, the asphalt temperature when it’s 77 degrees F is equivalent to the asphalt being 125 degrees F.
To be on the safe side, if it’s over 70 degrees out it should give you pause for the paws. If it’s 70 degrees and it’s only 10am and you’re about to start your walk …. it might get too hot mid walk. You have to consider also if you’re walking in the sun or in the shade. And how long you’ll be out for.
For the safety of your dogs, consider the surface that they are on all day long. They need a cool, shady surface area where they can lay down and keep their body cool.
So what can you do to prevent burns?
Walk your dogs as early in the morning and as late in the evening as possible to allow the surfaces to cool.
If your dog wants to walk on the grass, let them.
Callusses on their paw pads acts as an insulator. Walking on cement helps build up a small layer of protection.
You can opt to moisturize their pads everyday with Vaseline or Mushers Secret which will prevent cracked calluses.
My dogs rule everything around me. When I’m not taking care of them, I’m helping pet businesses build profitable online communities on social media. Find us on our blog, social media links below, and also on Instagram @maggielovesorbit, @woofandmeowmedia & @barkcommunity.