How to not burn your dog this summer
It’s only a matter of weeks before the streets of Phoenix are completely abandoned by all tourists. These are the smarter version of humans, the ones that visit our metropolis long enough to enjoy the pleasant weather then go home before the triple digit heat arrives. For those of you silly enough to stay, it’s important to remember that your dog feels the heat too. So please take care of your furry friends. I’ll make it as easy for you as I can:
Don’t forget that we are barefoot. Do you walk around without shoes on the hot pavement or sidewalks in 110 degree heat? Of course not. Your feet would burn. Try and remember that dogs are barefoot. Our feet are padded but not protected from the intense summer heat. Make sure to walk your dog in areas with plenty of shade and grass or buy it some dog booties.
To shave or not to shave? The common sense of mere humans might dictate that shaving off all a dog’s hair will help cool the dog off. That’s only partly true. A dog’s head of hair is genetically designed to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. For shorter-haired dogs, that means a shave probably isn’t necessary. However, some long-haired dogs do need the relief so check with your vet. And remember – don’t ever cut the hair too short. Leave an inch or so to protect your dog’s skin from the sun. And use sunscreen if your dog is going to be outside for long periods of time.
Try not to dehydrate your dog. Hopefully this isn’t a mind-blowing revelation for you, but dogs need lots of water. That need increases with summer activities, just like it does for humans. Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, cool water. Keep an eye out for signs of heat distress like excessive panting. Dehydrated dogs may have sunken eyes, a very dry mouth, act lethargic or stop eating and drinking. Take your dog to the vet if you see any of these symptoms.
Some dogs are really dumb and simply forget to take water breaks because they are having too much fun chasing their own tail. For those dogs, I suggest pulling them away for regular drink breaks or adding ice to their water bowl to entice them.
Leaving us outside during the day is bad. I get it. Many dogs can’t handle being alone inside a house. Table legs beg to be chewed, curtains beckon us to pull on them. Pee and poop accidents happen. But leaving us outside in 100+ degree heat is not the best idea. Shade can cool the air by around 9-10 degrees, and while that’s helpful, it’s still not comfortable. So consider an alternative that includes some sort of air conditioning.
Leaving us in the car during the day is worse. Just turn on the news. Enough said.
Leaving us alone in a lake or pool is also a bad idea. Yes, most of us can swim. But not for prolonged periods of time. And not all of us are smart enough to get out of the lake or the pool. So while it’s fine to invite us to join the water fun, please don’t leave us alone in the water after funtime is done.
Following these tips should help you keep your dog from becoming sun-damaged. Enjoy the sweltering heat!