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BEACON Senior News

5 tips for keeping your pet cool during the dog days of summer

Jul 01, 2024 04:12PM ● By Jenna Kretschman

The dog days of summer are here, stretching from July 3 to August 11. This period, named for the alignment of the sun with Sirius, the Dog Star, marks the hottest time of the year in Colorado, where temperatures often soar into the 90s and 100s. This summer, keep your canine companions safe with these tips for the hot days ahead:

  • Recognize the signs of overheating. When your pet’s body temperature rises beyond its normal range and natural cooling methods like panting aren’t sufficient to cool them down, heat exhaustion can occur. This condition may look like excessive heavy breathing, dry and brightly-colored gums, excessive drooling, vomiting, wobbly legs and decreased alertness. Severe overheating, called heat stroke, can be life-threatening. 

    If you think your dog might be overheating, bring them to a cooler environment like underneath a shady tree or an air-conditioned building or car. Use a cool, damp towel to pat your dog’s armpits, neck, hind legs, ears and paw pads. Offer your dog a drink of water and seek veterinary attention as needed.

  • Prepare before heading out. Before leaving the house with your dog, check the weather at your destination, whether it’s a local hiking trail or a short stroll around the block. Choose a route with plenty of rest spots, like shady trees or a cool creek where your dog can take a refreshing dip. Remember to pack an extra bottle of water, a collapsible bowl and a towel to help cool down your dog if needed.

  • Check the pavement temperature. Hot concrete or asphalt can scorch your dog’s paw pads. Before walking your dog, test the ground by placing your hand or bare foot on the pavement for at least 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s likely too hot for your dog’s paws as well. Consider buying dog booties from a pet store to protect their feet. Alternatively, walk your dog early in the morning or late at night, or choose higher altitude areas where the temperatures are cooler.

  • Understand your dog’s specific risk of overheating. Factors such as breed, age and fitness level can affect how susceptible your dog is to heat. Short-snouted dog breeds like pugs and bulldogs are particularly prone to overheating. Dogs that are overweight, have thick coats, are out of shape or have certain medical issues also face increased risks.
  • Set up a dog-friendly outdoor space at home. Keep your dog safe in his or her own backyard by providing ample shady spots and access to fresh water at all times, especially if your dog is left outdoors unsupervised. Consider adding a small pool for your pup to cool off in! Additionally, never leave your dog in a parked car during warm months. Even when the outdoor air temperature seems mild, the temperature inside a car can quickly climb to dangerous levels.