Dogs genetically, are closely related to humans and, just like humans they are susceptible to cancers -including skin cancer. Many people who own dog breeds with long hair think that shaving a dog for the summer is helpful – but that is definitely not the case. Part of the purpose of your dog’s hair is to cover the skin so that your dog can avoid sun damage. The best thing to do for a dog with long hair in order to keep them cool, is to brush them often during the summer months so that they can shed the unnecessary hair and keep the hair that they need to protect the skin, and, keep it healthy and vibrant. There are certain parts of your dog of course, that are not covered by hair that get exposed to the sun like his nose. If you have a dog that has a lighter color nose that likes to spend a fair amount of time outside, sunscreen is a really good idea for those areas. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations on the types of sunscreens that may be available or perhaps human ones that are usable for your dog.
If you dog is like my son’s dog, and likes to spend time outside, then you should insure that there are shaded areas in your yard where your dog can spend time. I put a sun umbrella up so that it allots her enough shade to lay in. There are also shaded areas to lay along our shed and the above ground pool. I invested in a toddler wading pool for the dogs that we fill with an inch or two of water. If you incorporate a wading pool for your dog, be aware of placement because on a very hot and sunny day the water will not remain cool and refreshing unless it is placed in shade and not in sun.
Keep your dog’s water dish clean and filled. Keep in mind that just putting water out in the morning does not do the job because the water bowl needs to be filled constantly in hot weather. Your dog will drink vast amounts of water to make himself cool. Feel free to add ice to your dog’s water bowl for a little extra comfort and to keep the water cooler longer.
Baby It’s HOT Outside!
If you walk your dog you need to make sure that when it is uncomfortably hot outside you walk your dog either early in the morning or later on in the evening when the sun drops and not during the heat of the day. If you can’t avoid a walk on a hot sunny day, be sure to do a pavement check by placing the palm of your hand on the pavement in the sun – if it’s too hot for your hand, then it’s too hot for your dog’s feet! It really is best to keep exercise and outdoor time to a minimum if at all possible because as humans, we wear shoes and it becomes easy to forget how hot cement or blacktop can get. So, again, if you walk your dog be aware of the temperature of the pavement. I have seen paws that have blistered and severly injured from walking on hot pavement.
Keep your dog’s time in the car to a minimum during the summer months. If your dog is in the car with you with the air conditioning running, it should not be a problem but never leave your dog in the car with the engine off and no air conditioning on – even on a cloudy day when it’s only 72° outside. The interior of the car can become quite deadly for your dog so it’s best to err on the side of caution and if the day is warm best to leave your dog at home.
My Final Thoughts
Be aware of the signs of heatstroke – especially for older dogs who are more susceptible to it. Because, even the slightest exertion at the wrong temperature can be extremely life-threatening for an older dog. Exercise discretion and on the side of caution and keep an older dog, in the extreme heat of summer, less active, and at home in the air conditioning!
I would love to hear your comments, feedback stories and ideas.
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