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Beat the heat! How to keep your dog cool in dog days of summer

It is so hot that my poor dog spends most of his day lying around, panting, in his fur coat. His biggest expense of energy is rolling his girth over, after which he lets out a loud sigh. As the temperature is creeping into the mid-90’s and beyond this week, I am starting to seriously worry about him a bit in my non-air conditioned very old hot house. I finally shut him in my bedroom which has a stand alone air conditioner and he perked up a bit (see above “after” photo) – here is his “before” photo: 

However, he hates to be alone so I had to let him out and now he is back to panting. I talked to some of my fellow dog-owner friends, and here are some tips on keeping your dog safe and cool when the temperatures are soaring:

  • Large breeds with heavy coats are most at risk for heat stroke, as well as short-nosed dogs, while smaller short-hair breeds fare better. Have your dog groomed and trimmed by a professional to eliminate excess fur.
  • Avoid exercising your dog during the heat of the day – stick to early morning and evening when the days get really hot.
  • Always bring water for your dog when you head out for even a short amount of time in the heat of the summer – there are special dog water bottles  (available on petmountain.com) and portable dog bowls that make it easy to bring water with you.
  • There are also specialty items for keeping your dog cool, including water-filled beds, vests, and bandanas (petmountain.com has a variety of items). My neighbor has a kiddy pool and he has trained his lab to sit in it to stay cool.
  • It’s ok for dogs to swim in swimming pools but take precautions, just like you would with children. Never leave your dog unsupervised in case he slips getting in or out of the pool, or overtires while swimming. Show him the stairs and make sure he is trained to use them. Also, don’t let him drink the chlorinated water, which can lead to bloating.
  • If you are leaving your dog indoors during the day, make sure the room is ventilated, there is plenty of water and the temperature indoors doesn’t exceed 80 degrees F.
  • It goes without saying to never leave your dog in the car in the summer, as any good dog owner knows.
  • Some of the signs of heatstroke are panting hard, staggering gait, rapid heartbeat, dazed look, listlessness, restlessness, dark red or purple gums and/or tongue and vomiting. If you suspect a heat-induced illness in your dog, gradually lower his body temperature by moving him to the shade or air conditioning, apply cold packs to his head, neck or belly, or immerse in cool (not cold) water, giving small amounts of cool water or ice cubes to lick — and then take him to the vet immediately.
  • Yes, dogs can get sunburned! The nose, ears and top of the head are especially susceptible. You can buy special dog sun block or children’s sun block works just as well.

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