There is no doubt that one of the best aspects of living in New England is getting to enjoy our beautiful summer weather. For many of us, this experience is made even more enjoyable by sharing it with our four-legged friends. Familiarizing yourself with how to keep your pet cool and comfortable can help keep your pet safe, happy, and healthy on these hot summer days.
The most important aspect of keeping your pet safe during the summer is to remember that they should NEVER be left alone in the car. The inside of a car can reach over 110 degrees on a 70 degree day. Hotter and sunnier days produce even higher inside temperatures very, very quickly. Recent studies have also shown that cracking the window does little to help decrease the heat inside your car. This kind of heat can be fatal to your dog within minutes. Leaving your car idling with the AC on is also not recommended. Many states now have laws against leaving your car idling and there is always the possibility that your car could stall or malfunction- rendering the AC useless.
It is also important to realize that certain types of dogs are more sensitive to the heat than others. Brachiocephalic breeds such as bulldogs, French bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, etc. have a much more difficult time maintaining their core body temperature in the heat. These dogs should always be monitored very closely for signs of heat stroke if they are outside on a warm day. Ideally, trips outside should be short and should be taken closer to dusk or dawn when the day is cooler. Dogs with very dark/black or thick haircoats are also more sensitive to the sun/heat than their less-hairy counterparts. Puppies also have more difficulty maintaining an appropriate core temperature than full-grown adult dogs. Dogs who suffer from laryngeal paralysis or who are obese should also be watched much more carefully during warmer weather.
On very sunny days it is also possible that your dog could get a sunburn. Just like people, their exposed skin is sensitive and can easily burn. The nose and ears are common areas for dogs to get sunburns. Dogs with thin or sparse haircoats, as well as dogs with pink/white skin are more susceptible to this problem. Applying sunscreen to your hands and then to the exposed areas on your pet as well as putting a t-shirt on them can help to reduce this risk.
Ensuring that your pet has plenty of drinking water and shade is very important if they are going to be outside with you. Avoiding strenuous exercise and providing them with a kiddy pool with cool water or other access to swimming water are also recommended in order to prevent heat stroke. If you have any questions about how to safely enjoy the summer season with your canine companion please do not hesitate to call us at River Road Veterinary Clinic.