A definite hot button topic in the media these days is the safety of animals in the heat. The news and social media are littered with stories of pets dying in the heat.
Half a century ago most people kept their dogs outside. Dogs lived in backyards or freely roamed neighborhoods. However, over the years our pets have come inside to live, becoming valued members of our family. Because of this, dogs are no longer acclimated to extremes in outside temperatures.
As a pet owner there are some things you should know about the heat. Smush face breeds like bulldogs and pugs are less tolerant of the heat than other breeds. Dogs trained for sport-hunting field trials must be conditioned for the weather. Anytime the temperature is above 85 degrees, dogs should only be allowed out for 30 - 45 minutes at a time with supervision to make sure they don't get too hot. Dogs don't sweat, which means they can't regulate their body temperature. Leaving a dog in a hot car can cause brain damage in as little as eight minutes.
What should you do?
Pet owners are responsible for keeping their dogs safe during the heat of summer. Provide plenty of shade for outside dogs such as trees, a covered porch, or shade cloth over a dog run. Doghouses are not a good option as they trap heat. Make sure your dog has plenty of water 24 hours a day. Leave a kiddie pool with cool water for your dog to take a dip. If traveling with your dog, bring along water and a bowl. Never leave your dog in a hot car. You can also put frozen water bottles in your dog's crate to keep him cool during a trip. Avoid strenuous exercises on hot days, and take walks in the early mornings or late evenings. Finally, be aware that asphalt heats up quickly in hot weather. A good rule of thumb is to place your hand on the street or sidewalk. If it is too hot for you to leave your hand there for three minutes, then it's hot enough to burn the pads of your dog's paws.
Every pet owner wants to keep their dog safe and healthy. Using common sense and following suggested guidelines will allow pet owners to enjoy dogs with long, healthy lives.