Because humans are so easily affected by summer heat, we often assume that if we’re keeping ourselves cool, we have a handle on our dogs’ comfort, too.
Yet, there are a few key ways that dogs differ from us in the ways that they cope with heat. Here are five essential tips for keeping dogs safe and cool that you might not have heard before.
1. Is it too hot to walk barefoot on your driveway? Then it’s too hot for your pup.
Though the air outside might seem unbearably hot, asphalt can get even hotter — up to 135 degrees or more! If you can’t comfortably hold your bare hand or feet on a surface for 5 seconds or more, it means that surface is too hot for your dog’s paw pads, which can burn badly.
If your dog is limping, licking her paws, or if you notice discoloration of the paw pads, all could be signs of burned paws, and veterinary attention is recommended.
2. Your dog’s face shape could affect his ability to cool himself down.
Dogs with flat faces, such as pugs, have a harder time cooling themselves down, since it’s more difficult for them to pant effectively. To help keep these pups cool, you might need to crank up the air-conditioning!
Pugs aren’t the only ones that need a little extra love: puppies, along with elderly dogs and dogs that are overweight, have a more difficult time staying cool, so it’s important to make sure that they’re comfortable in the summer months.
3. Your dog’s coat color — and length — could make her prone to sunburn.
Thought humans were the only ones that could burn? Nope.
If your dog has a white coat, or a very short or thin coat, s/he could be prone to sunburn.
Also, while it may seem to make sense to shave your dog to keep him or her cool, dogs’ coats help regulate temperature. Shaving your pup can lead to problems cooling herself down (and to sunburn).
4. Barbecues and fireworks require a little extra planning for your pup.
It’s tempting to share the joy of a summer BBQ with our pups — but the snacks and drinks common to barbecues are often not friendly to our dogs’ digestion. Raw and undercooked meat, bones, onions, citrus, raisins, grapes, and alcohol are among the common foods and drinks that can be toxic to pets.
Also, when planning for the 4th of July (or any night that involves fireworks), make your pup feel extra safe and secure by removing him from the area with fireworks. Not only will this help avoid possible burns, but loud noises can be scary for dogs.
Try keeping your pup in a quiet and safe area of your home so he doesn’t get spooked and try to escape when the fireworks start.
5. Fans may not cut it.
No one likes a high AC bill, but it turns out that fans don’t cool dogs as effectively as they cool humans. This is because dogs sweat mostly through their paws.
There are a few alternative methods of cooling your pup, though — try a cooling vest, a cooling mat, or even a frozen treat to help keep their body temperature down.
For a full list of safety precautions for your dog during the summer, visit the ASPCA’s Hot Weather Safety Tips.
Header image via Vlad Busuioc/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)