FINALLY after what seemed liked maybe the worst Spring in years here in CNY, the temperatures are starting to rise and we are getting some warmer weather. It’s important to be mindful of your pets’ health as it relates to warmer weather.
Nutrition – Just like humans, your dog’s appetite might not be as voracious as normal in hot weather. While we need to be diligent in what we are feeding our pets year round, here are some things that can help optimize your pets’ health in the summer time. Monitor your dog’s appetite level and decrease his / her daily portion accordingly if necessary.
- Feed your pets’ meals at room temperature or slightly cooler. Too cold is not good for your dogs stomach.
- Feed in a cool shady place.
- Consider supplementing your dog’s food with cooling fruits & veggies. Watermelon, kale, raspberries, broccoli, lettuce, asparagus, green beans are all safe and healthy additions to your pets’ meal.
Water, water, water!
In addition to overheating, pets can get dehydrated quickly.
Prevent dehydration by providing your dog with unrestricted access to fresh and cool water.
To encourage your dog to drink more on hot days:
- place more water bowls around in the house and garden
- resupply the cold water
Whenever you leave your house with your pet, take water (bottle water, reusable bottles of water, etc…) and a portable / collapsable bowl with you. There are many options to choose from.
Exercise – what you do for your own exercise is one thing, but exercising your dog in warm weather takes careful consideration.
- Swimming is a great exercise during the summer months. Monitor your pets closely while they are in the water. Some dogs may tire quickly or unexpectedly while not showing any signs and be at risk of drowning. Consider purchasing a canine life vest to protect your dog.
- Take your dog for walks early morning or in the evening when temps are at their coolest point in the day.
- Indoor games – hiding treats all around the house. This can be good exercise and also great mental stimulation.
- Remember that in the heat, your dog does not need as much exercise and some dogs should just be left at home. These are brachycephalic dogs (Pugs, Boxers, French Bulldogs, Shih Tzu’s) with short noses who have difficulty breathing when the weather gets warm, even with no exercise.
You might not be overheating, but, that doesn’t mean that your dog is feeling ok. You aren’t wearing a fur coat and unlike humans, dogs do not have sweat glads to help them cool off. Dogs with darker coats will heat up faster than dogs with lighter coats. Dogs with heavier coats will heat up before dogs with finer coats.
NEVER leave your pets alone in your car on a warm day. Every year, hundreds of pets die of heat-related complications after they were left in parked cars on warm days. A recent study on heat stress from enclosed vehicles showed that the internal temperature of a parked car can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, and in an hour, can increase over 45 degrees F. What’s more, cracking the windows to allow for cooling did not significantly slow this heat rise down (it only slowed the heat gain by about a 1/4 degree every 5 minutes). In the summer, our pets are much better left at home to help avoid this dangerous situation.
The asphalt surfaces our dogs are exposed to, including driveways and roadways, can reach over 150 degrees F on a summer day. Other surfaces may be less hot, but prolonged exposure to any surfaces approaching this temperature has the potential to cause thermal injury.
A dog’s foot pads have evolved to be tough and can withstand more than our feet can, but these hot surfaces have the potential to burn a dog’s paws, especially if they are playing strenuously on that surface. Contrary to common belief, dogs will not always stop playing if their paws hurt — many will keep playing until made to stop.
We hope you found some of these tips to be useful. Please enjoy these summer months. Stay safe and healthy during this time of COVID-19.
Always remember – Life is Short. Play With Your Dog.