Summer Rules

SUMMER RULE #1>>> Always, always (even when it’s only 80 degrees outside) did I say ALWAYS test the exterior ground before letting your dog’s paws touch it…

Hold the back of your bare hand to all surfaces; asphalt, concrete, pavers, gravel, sand… even dirt (everything but natural grass) for at least 5 seconds before allowing your dog to walk on it. If it hurts you, it will DEFINITELY hurt your dog. It’s important to check every time as the ground temps can fluctuate even when the air temp is the same.

How come? >>> Their paws will burn, blister and at a minimum cause them severe pain. 

Why you may resist this rule. >>> Limits your dog’s activity and potty time accessibility.

Solutions >>>
a. Take your pup outside early in the morning and in the evening when the ground is more likely to pass the touch test.
b. Install a puppy park (regularly rotated sod) in your patio or yard that they can easily get to without walking on a hot surface. IMPORTANT: Must rotate sod weekly to avoid bacteria build up.
c. Discover indoor games to keep their mind and body active during the poor weather months.

Dos and Don’ts>>>

DO leave them home.
DO follow the above solutions.
DO use a paw wax to help buffer them from the heat. NOTE: This does not keep paws from burning on pavement that is too hot, but it does give a small degree of protection and more comfort against minor heat. I use and LOVE Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protector Wax, smearing it on and between the pads of his feet before every walk.

DON’T let them stand on hot pavement when you get in or out of the car.
DON’T make them run across the hot asphalt into the pet store, the scorching sand to the waves, or to the grassy spot on the other side of the burning hot dirt.
DON’T use booties, which cuts off most of their ability to cool themselves.

SUMMER RULE #2>>> Keep your dog inside once the temperature goes above your dog’s temperature*.*101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius)

How come? >>> Their system CANNOT cool once the temperature around them is higher than their body temp.

Why you may resist this rule. >>> We’ve been taught that dogs can cool themselves as long as they can pant; however, this is only true if the temperature is cool. And, as with hot pavement, it limits your dog’s activity and potty time accessibility.

Solutions >>>
a. Get them a cooling vest, use as directed and monitor your dog to make sure it works for them.
b. Limited pool or pond swim for exercise if you monitor carefully; they can overheat even when wet as their skin is like a scuba suit and does not have evaporative cooling like a human.
c. a puppy pool in a shady spot where water can be kept cool. Unless water is cool your dog will not benefit.

Dos and Don’ts>>>

DO leave them home.
DO follow the above solutions.
DO learn the signs of over heating, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

DON’T think your dog is different. Unlike humans, when a dog’s system becomes overheated their internal organs can very quickly be harmed. Once they begin to shut down it is extremely difficult and often impossible to turn it around.
DON’T spray your dog down to cool them off. Spraying water on a dog may feel cool to them for a moment, but much like a scuba suit their skin has no pores and being wet is not cooling like it can be to us. Instead, it’s more of a wet blanket effect.  It would be like spraying water on a scuba suit. It doesn’t work!

SUMMER RULE #3>>> Leave your dog home once it’s over 78 degrees.

How come? >>> Dog’s systems are mostly designed to heat up. Once in the upper 70s, the ground is often too hot for them to walk on and the car is suffocating to them.

Why you may resist this rule. >>> It feels so beautiful outside and we want to have our dogs with us.

Solutions >>>
a. enroll you and your dog in a training class in an air conditioned facility.
b. schedule a play date with another dog so they can stay socialized while indors during prohibitive weather.
c. find an air conditioned dog park. Many cities have agility training facilities that have open play for a small fee.

Dos and Don’ts>>>

DO leave them home.
DO follow the above solutions.
DO schedule a weekly indoor activity, class, playdate. Put it in your calendar now. You (and your pup) will be happy you did.

DON’T ever, ever, EVER leave your dog in the car if it’s hotter than 70 degrees. Even when it’s nice outside, the interior temperature of a car can soar 25-30+ degrees in a matter of minutes. Even if it is below 70 degrees outside and you decide it’s safe, always leave windows open and lots of fresh water… or play it safe and leave them home.

SUMMER RULE #4>>> Limit exercise to 10-20 minutes periods with breaks in between.

How come? >>> Hiking, running, biking can literally kill your dog. Other than greyhounds and some sled dogs, your dog’s systems are not built for long distances… regardless of the weather. If you hike or run them long distances (longer than a mile at a time) chances are they may be suffering, or incurring gradual stress on their heart, which can shorten their life (and quality of life) considerably.

Why you may resist this rule. >>> We think our dog is smiling so they must be happy. The reality is that dogs love their humans and want to be near them. They will run until their heart bursts to please you. I know two people who have lost their (young & healthy) dogs… one to heart failure from chasing rabbits in the desert and the other from heat exhaustion while on a hike with her owner. Sorry to be bleak, but it’s a reality we need to know about.

Solutions >>>

a. Rest your pup a minimum of 5 minutes for every 5-20 minutes of activity. That means a shady spot, away from distraction where you can get them to drink.
b. choose activities that are conducive to short spurts; play ball (5 minutes), wrestling (15-20 minutes), run around the block or difficult hike (10 minutes), walk around the neighborhood or a relaxed hike (20 minutes). Break for 5 minutes then repeat once or twice depending on your dog and their breed. AM and PM if possible.
c. Teach them to walk on a treadmill (never leave them unattended).

Dos and Don’ts>>>

DO set your activities based on your dog’s comfort and needs not on your own.
DO invest in a cooling vest AND be vigilant that it is working.
DO make an indoor toy. My absolute favorite is a long fluffy toy tied to the end of a horse’s lunge whip. It looks like a massive cat toy! Not only does my very high energy dog get to burn energy. He LOVES it! But only use it on soft footing (no tile floors, pavers, pavement, etc…because it will tear up their feet) If you don’t have a large enough carpeted room inside, try a shady spot of grass. But, again… watch the time, temperature and use a cooling vest.

DON’T let them walk, run or play longer than the established times for the varying activities. They can easily overheat, and flip into heat exhaustion. A cooling vest will help with this, but be vigilant.

SUMMER RULE #5>>> Protect all dogs from sunburn.

How come? >>>  Dog’s skin can burn. Not only direct sun, but especially ultraviolet rays that reflect off of the sidewalk can burn their underside and chest in a matter of minutes. Their ears, nose and chin is also susceptible causing pain, scratching, peeling and even cancer.

Why you may resist this rule. >>>We think it’s silly… their skins are tough, or, my dog has long hair how can they burn?

Solutions >>>

a. Apply a pet formulated sunblock to the nose, ears, and under bellies of all dogs and all over for short coated dogs.
b. When outdoors stay in the shade or take them out after dark.

Dos and Don’ts>>>

DO talk with your groomer and make sure to leave a minimum of an inch when clipping a long haired dog. If their hair is cut too short, you will expose their tender skin to harmful and hurtful rays.
DO try different doggie sunblocks until you find the one that works best. I use, Epi-Pet sunscreen because my vet warned me about effectiveness and toxins in human sunblock when used on dogs.  Frankly my dog hates the spray. But, bully dogs like mine are especially prone to skin problems, so SPF is a MUST. I cover his eyes and snout and spray him everywhere behind his shoulders – especially the underneath which can often burn from the light reflection. Then I spray into my hands and rub a bit on his ears and nose and we’re good to go.
DO stay inside when the sun is beating down.

DON’T forget that even when the weather is nice sun can take their toll on their skin.

We hope you’ll use these rules as an effective guide to discuss with your vet; and, if what they say doesn’t resonate as true for you, get a second or even third opinion.  Remember your dog counts on you to advocate for them and keep them from harm.

Together we can make a difference… let’s keep furry companions everywhere protected, healthy and happy!

In your corner,
Thais (and Vito)

p.s. If you like what you read, please share with family and friends…