Summer is an awesome season for dogs in NYC, because because they get to be more active outdoors. Summer can be a dangerous season for heavily undercoated dogs, short nosed breeds, overweight or elderly dogs, or dogs with medical conditions such as laryngeal paralysis. Highly driven working dogs such as retrievers, shepherds and spaniels should also be closely monitored during play and exercise in the Summer. A good rule of thumb is: if you are hot, they are much hotter. Dogs are only able to regulate their temperatures through panting. Here are a few Summer safety tips to keep your dog safe in the concrete jungle during these steamy months:
Dog’s paws can be burned from prolonged exposure to walking on hot concrete or asphalt. Walk them in shady areas. Keep walks short during the hottest time of the day and exercise them after sun down. Be particularly cautious with puppies or dogs that do not walk outside often. In time, a puppy’s paw pads hardens through callusing by walking on various surfaces which protects their paws. Young dogs are susceptible to burns while their paw pads are not yet hardened.
Never leave your dog in the car unless you’re with them and the air conditioner is on. The temperature in a parked car rises quickly. If the external temperature is 75 degrees, within minutes, it rises to 100 degrees. By keeping the dog enclosed in a parked car, the dog is literally getting cooked. Not cool (pun intended).
Thinly coated dogs are susceptible to sunburns. Apply sunscreen that are made for dogs, or outfit us in thin T-shirts to create a barrier to the sun if we’re going for a long swim.
Dogs regulate their heat through panting. Which means they are losing moisture by the way they ventilate. Provide access to plenty of fresh water. They love ice cubes or frozen broth!
Mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks and fleas are rampant during the Summer months. Protect them with preventative applications such as collars, sprays, dips and drops.
Swimming keeps dogs cool and it’s great exercise! But prevent them from drinking excess amounts of chlorinated water in the pool or salt water in the ocean. It will upset their stomachs. Don’t let them drink standing water because it’s filled with bacteria and parasites. Keep them away from green ponds. Algae that blooms in the Summer months are toxic to dogs.
While heavy coats protect them in the winter, dogs in urban settings have it tough due to radiant heat that remains on concrete and asphalt. A densely coated dog greatly benefits from buzz cut and crew cut styles in the hot, humid months. A shorter cut not only keeps them cool, but it prevents pesky plant seeds such as foxtails and disease carrying ticks from hiding under their dense fur. Plus it’s easier to keep them clean and free of mats!
Signs of heatstroke are lethargy, drooling, excess panting. At the first sign, cool them off by running cool (not cold) water first over their underside, neck and back head. Slowly cover the whole body. Keep their heads elevated to prevent aspiration pneumonia. This can be done in the tub, the sink (depending on size) or with a garden hose. Apply a cold pack on their head to lower their temperature. Massage their legs to increase circulation and reduce shock. Allow them to drink as much water as they need. Add a small pinch of salt in the water to replace the minerals they have lost through panting. Check their temperature– it needs to be below 103 degrees (39.4 Celsius), if it is over this temperature go to the vet immediately!