1. Have Plenty of Fresh, Cold Water Available
Whether you’re taking your dog on a hike or just playing in the back yard, it’s important to make fresh, cold water available and accessible for him.
When you’re out and about, bring a portable, collapsible water bowl or a squirt bottle. Give him small amounts of water every 15 to 20 minutes during activity. Make sure you have enough cool water to last the entire time you’re gone.
If your dog starts panting excessively, get him to the shade and give him more water right away. Arleigh Reynolds, Purina Senior Research Nutritionist and Veterinarian, cautions against giving too much water at once, though.
“For a forty-five to fifty-five-pound dog, don’t let them drink more than four to eight ounces of water at a time. After they’ve had time to absorb it and get it out of their stomach, give them some more ten or fifteen minutes later.”
2. Play in the Water
A wet dog is a cool dog. Dr. Reynolds recommends planning outdoor summer activities with your pooch so they involve some water play—sprinklers, pools or lakes can all be fun and cooling.
“Take them someplace where, if you’re going for a run, you can stop and throw a stick and have him swim to fetch it. It’s amazing how quickly that can lower his body temperature and make him feel good.”
Just remember to bring some old towels to dry off after he is done playing.
3. Avoid the Midday Heat
You and your dog can exercise outside any time of day depending on the heat and humidity. A mild, overcast day with low humidity might be okay for a midday walk or run.
If it’s sunny, 80 degrees, and high humidity, it’s better to avoid the midday heat. If you do need to get some exercise on those types of days, try to go early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s not as hot.
Remember to check the temperature of the pavement before you go. Even on milder days, asphalt can get extremely hot in direct sun. Dr. Reynolds suggests putting your hand on the pavement to test the temperature. You can also pour water on blacktops. If it immediately steams up, it’s too hot for your dog.
“You can get little boots for your dogs’ paws, but you have to be careful with those, too,” he says. “If they get hot, it will cause a problem anyway.” Dr. Reynolds prefers walking his dogs on trails. Because they aren’t hard surfaces and are typically shaded, they’re less likely to cause injury.
4. Never Sit in a Parked Car
Don’t leave your dog in a parked car—ever—even with the windows cracked. Even on milder days, temperatures inside the car can quickly rise to dangerous, life-threatening levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131°F to 172°F when it’s 80°F to 100°F outside.”
If you want to take your dog on a road trip this summer, Dr. Reynolds says, “In the car with air conditioning is fine. Keep an eye on him to see if he starts panting, though. If the dog isn’t acclimated to travel, the extra anxiety associated with traveling can be enough to put a dog over the edge.”
Dr. Reynolds trains his dogs from an early age so not only are they used to travel, but it’s something they also look forward to.
5. Stay Out of the Dog House
Dog houses don’t allow for airflow, which makes them dangerous in the summer heat. If you need to keep outside dogs cool in summer, give them plenty of shady areas to lounge in with fresh, cool water on hand. Adding ice to the water bowl can help, too.
6. Know the Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs
Any time you’re out and about with your dog, pay attention to his behavior, body language, and more. According to Dr. Reynolds, there are a couple of things to look for, including “panting and how excited your dog is to keep going with the activity. If your dog suddenly starts holding back on a walk or run, that’s a clear sign to take a break and cool off. Another thing to look for is the way he holds his ears and tail. “If his ears are erect and he’s alert and looking around, great. If they start to droop, that’s worrisome. The same goes for the tail. I’ve noticed when a lot of dogs get warm, if they have a tail that’s normally up and wagging, it will start to drift down or even go all the way down, which is another warning sign.”
Heatstroke is a serious risk for dogs on hot days. Puppies, senior dogs, and those in poor health are at a higher risk. Following the above tips can help prevent overheating and heatstroke in dogs.