• Lauren McCall

Top 5 Tips for a Safe Dog Days of Summer

Updated: Jun 29

Ah, Summer. Plans for the season may include road trips to the lake, sun bathing, playtime outdoors with your dogs, camping, barbecuing, and fireworks. Summer can be a great opportunity to have fun with the whole family, including your fur babies. However it is important to keep in mind the risks and take the proper safety precautions when planning your adventures. Since pets do not sweat like humans, they can become easily overheated. Here are some tips from HSNT on how to keep the four legged members of your family safe during hot weather.

1. Provide Plenty of Water and Shade

Dehydration in dogs and cats is a high health risk during the summer. Dogs get much thirstier than we do when they are hot. Signs of dehydration include dry gums and excessive drooling. Loss of skin elasticity is one of the easiest ways to test for dehydration. To test elasticity, gently hold up the fold of your dog’s skin near his shoulder blades (the nape of the neck) raise it up, and then let it go. Watch carefully as it falls back into place. In a hydrated dog, the skin will go back to its original position quickly and easily. The skin of dehydrated dogs will take longer to fall back into place. Another test is to check if your dog’s gums to feel whether they’re sticky and dry.

To avoid dehydration, be sure to provide your pet access to clean, fresh water inside and outside. You can even bring a collapsible bowl with you to refill on the go while you're out on your summer adventures.

Also if your pet is outside, be sure they have access to shade and shelter so they can stay out of the hot sun. We recommend not leaving your dog outside nor on a walk longer than 30 minutes. The middle of the day is the hottest time. Early morning walks before 10 am or evening strolls after 6 pm are best for exercise.

Bonus Tip: Professionals recommend you check the temperature of the ground before your walk. Place your hand on the pavement. If you can't hold it there to the ground for 5 seconds, it's too hot for your dog's paws!

2. Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Dogs and cats don’t sweat like we do. They drink lots of water and dogs pant to bring down their body's temperature. They also heat from the bottom up. So the hottest parts of their body that need cooling down will be paws, belly, and chest.

Watch for these possible symptoms of overheating:

  • Heavy panting

  • Dry or bright red gums

  • Thick drool

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Fainting

  • Seizures

  • Lethargy

  • Trouble standing/walking

If your pet shows signs of heat exhaustion, move them inside to a cool spot like the tile floor, provide them with water or ice, but don’t place your pet in cold water as that can put them into shock. Cool them off gradually with a damp towel on their body and get them to a trusted vet ASAP.

3. Never Leave Your Pet Alone in the Car

We know your dog loves car rides, but don't bring them along if you don't plan to take them out of the car with you. It may seem like leaving your pet in a car for a few minutes is no big deal. However, it can take less than 10 minutes for pets to have a heat stroke from being confined inside the hot vehicle. Cars heat up in the hot summer weather much faster than you'd expect. The temperatures in the car can jump 10+ degrees in less than 10 minutes.

If you see a pet left alone in a car under dangerous condition, take action immediately - try searching for the owner asap or even call the police and alert nearby businesses.

4. Consider a life vest for Swimming

Just like humans, we should always consider our dogs for safety measures at the lake, pool, or ocean. Wearing a life vest can be a great idea even if your dog is a strong swimmer. Dogs can become exhausted or disoriented in water, so it's always best practice to have a life vest. We highly recommend your pet wearing a life vest in a bright color will help them to stay visible and afloat in case of an accident or if they get swept out to a wave. Always keep an eye on your dogs companion when near any body of water.

5. Firework Safety

Did you know, more pets go missing on July 4th than on any other day of the year? The sounds from fireworks can be alarming for pets and cause them to make a dash away from the area, causing them to become lost and disoriented. We highly recommend making arrangements to plan ahead where your pet can be during the celebrations on the night of the fourth.

Plus, fireworks are made from toxic chemicals like potassium nitrate that can poison your curious dog if ingested. If you are putting on your own fireworks show, please keep your pet indoors, in a safe, quiet space where they will not hurt themselves or escape. and clear your yard of the fireworks debris before letting your pup or kitty back outside.

If you plan to leave your pets to go to a 4th of July celebration, be sure your pets are secure indoors away from the noise in a quiet, safe area. Thank you for reading up on our summertime tips! Have fun with your pets this summer and always put their safety first.

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HSNT’s mission is to act as an advocate on behalf of all animals and to ensure their legal, moral and ethical consideration and protection; to provide for the well-being of animals who are abandoned, injured, neglected, mistreated or otherwise in need; to promote an appreciation of animals; and to instill respect for all living things.


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