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Warm Weather Safety Tips for Pets from My Vet

Keeping Dogs and Other Pets Safe in Hot Weather

My vet sent me these warm weather safety tips for my dog and other pets. This is my first dog, so like a new parent, I am trying to educate myself to make sure I keep my dog alive and safe. Some of these hot weather tips were new to me and it gets hot here in New England so I am glad he sent them to me.  Oops on the dog shaving. I did do this a month ago to help with the ticks but the shave was a little too close. Next time I will ask for the “long shave” which just learned about. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!

Sun and Heat Exposure

Walks and Outdoor Playtime: The sun’s rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so when possible, therefore you should plan walks and outings earlier or later to avoid the peak  sun/heat times.

Sunburn: Dogs can get sunburn, which can lead to discomfort, skin damage and even skin cancer. Vets advise applying sun block to sun-sensitive areas such as nose and ears, particularly during the high-sun times of the day and for pets with short fur and fair skin. To be effective, sun block should be at least SPF 15, plus should be applied more than 15 minutes before sun exposure. Note: some experts recommend that zinc oxide not be used on pets. If your pet gets sunburn, contact us for advice

Bring ample water and a water bowl on long walks and car rides. You can keep a spray bottle of water handy for spritzing the dog’s head and paws, however do not spritz a dog’s face if he is skittish or afraid of being sprayed.

Avoid overexertion in hot weather. Seek out shaded places to exercise and avoid exercise when it is really hot. If your dog shows fatigue, take him home or to a cool, shaded area without delay.  Avoid hot asphalt and other surfaces that can burn your dog’s footpads. Dogs perspire through their feet, so long periods on hot pavement reduce their ability to cool themselves.

Do not leave dogs out in the sun for long periods, even in a safe yard. Whenever the dog is outside, make sure he has access to fresh, cool water in a non-tippable bowl and shade.

The heat tends to affect elderly, overweight and larger dogs more quickly. Longhaired dogs can overheat quicker than their short-haired counterparts.

While short fur can be a benefit, avoid shaving your dog down to the skin. Fur protects dogs from sunburn and actually helps insulate them against high heat. It also makes it harder for bugs to bite their skin. Brachiocephalic breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers and those with heart, lung or other conditions, should be kept indoors, preferably with air-conditioning, as much as possible.

Brachiocephalic breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers and those with heart, lung or other conditions, should be kept indoors, preferably with air-conditioning, as much as possible.

Be careful about using molded plastic pet carriers in hot weather. The heat inside may build up to dangerous levels.

If you see dog or cat suffering in the heat, left outside without adequate fresh water, shade or shelter, or being treated cruelly, please speak to the owner for the welfare of the pet. If the owner will not act responsibly or humanely, call your local Humane Society, SPCA and animal control department without delay.

Heat Stroke Prevention and Treatment: To protect your pet from heat stroke, review the tips above. Heat stroke can be brought on by activity as well as confinement outside in the heat, and the effects can be devastating.

First, be aware of the signs of heat stroke:

• Excessive panting

• Labored breathing that may signal upper airway obstruction

• Bright red mucous membranes in the gums or eyes and/or bright red tongue

• Lethargy and weakness

• High body temperature

• Collapsing and seizures, even coma

If you notice any of these signs, get your pet inside and place a cool, wet towel over him/her or submerge in cool water. Do not use ice, which can damage skin.

Dogs cool themselves by panting; this draws air over the moist membranes of the nose and tongue and cools by evaporation, but panting works only for short periods of time. Prolonged panting endangers the metabolic system. In addition, high humidity interferes with the ability of panting to cool the body.


Bring ample water and a water bowl.  Never leave animals alone in cars in warm or hot weather. On a balmy day, the temperature inside a car can reach a lethal 107 degrees. Even with the windows rolled down, the car will heat up, plus the pet could escape or a passerby could bother the animal.   When taking your pet along to visit friends and relatives, take things from your home that will comfort your pet. Crates are ideal for containing and comforting your pet as well as making your host feel more secure. The crate gives your companion animal a nice, quiet place to rest and calm down. Bring along favorite chewies, toys, pet bedding and non-tippable water container.

Cool Treat for Canines

Treat your best friend to a Frosty Paw.

1 8oz cup of yogurt (plain or flavored, but avoid sugary varieties)

1 banana

1 or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter

2 cups of cold water


Mix all ingredients in blender, pour the mixture into 2 ice-cube trays, and then freeze. Feed your dog 5 or 6 cubes in his or her bowl.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

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