How to Protect Your Dogs from Warm Weather Risks
Heat stress in dogs is just as serious and life-threatening as it is for humans. It is important to take steps to keep them cool outdoors during high temperatures and know the signs of heat stress. File photo by MSU Extension Service/Susan Collins-Smith
It’s hot! And my dogs agree. Sweeping is an everyday task with all the shedding at my house. Although some dogs don’t shed as much as others, all dogs have some biological mechanisms to help them keep cool. But any dog can easily overheat. So, I take steps to help make sure my dogs can stay cool when they are outdoors.
Heat stress in dogs is just as serious and life-threatening as it is for humans. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), high temperatures can be dangerous for your dogs, even when it doesn’t seem that hot to you. When it feels hot to you, your pets will be even hotter.
The AVMA recommends these steps to keep your pets cool when temperatures rise:
- Provide unlimited access to fresh water and shade.
- Exercise your dogs in the cooler parts of the day.
- Stay off hot surfaces, such as asphalt, when exercising your dogs. This can cause serious burns to their paws.
- Never leave a pet in a vehicle, even for a short time. Temperatures in vehicles can rise to dangerous levels within minutes. This chart shows you how hot it can get.
- Talk to your veterinarian about whether you should trim or clip your dog’s coat and whether you should use sunscreen on your pet.
- Keep them free of parasites, including fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Discuss the appropriate products and dosages for your pets with your veterinarian.
These are the common signs of heat stress. If you notice your pet experiencing any of these symptoms, get emergency veterinary care immediately:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Abnormal gum and tongue color
Another summertime danger is blue-green algae. Pets should not be allowed to drink from or swim in lakes or ponds that may be contaminated by blue-green algae blooms, which are bacteria called cyanobacteria. It can be toxic and result in fatal poisoning. Contaminated water may appear green with a bluish tint, have a thick, slimy algae covering, and usually has a foul odor. For more information about blue-green algae, other places it can grow, and what to do if your pet is exposed, visit the Pet Poison Helpline and VCA Hospitals websites.
Medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworms are just the first step in protecting your pets from parasites. Depending on where you live, you may also find it necessary to treat the yard and other areas that pets frequent to successfully control fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.
These Extension publications can help you:
For more information about keeping your pets safe during warm weather, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website.
Subscribe to Extension for Real Life
Fill in the information below to receive a weekly update of our blog posts.