Monday, July 9, 2012

Hot Summer Care To Keep Your Dog Cool

Justice enjoys the shade after playing hard
Someone just called the shelter to say there was a dog locked in a car at the grocery store. "Go inside and ask them to make an announcement for the owner," I said, "then call animal control at this number." Another call came in from a man who couldn't find his dog the night before. He called the dog to no avail and looked everywhere. Or nearly everywhere. His dog loved to jump in the car, and when the owner put the screen over his car window, he didn't see his dog jump in. Tragically, he discovered his dog the next morning in the car.

These are horrible stories, and we hope to hear no more of them this summer. But, summer in the Sierra Foothills is HOT and we've outlined a few things to remember about dog safety.

 Swimming: Can your dog swim in a fast moving, cold mountain river?  Some dogs don't have enough fat on them (think greyhounds or whippets) to stay afloat or regulate their body temperatures. The rivers and streams can still be quite cold, even with our outside temps being in the 90s.

Some dogs get swept away and drown in fast moving streams or in river areas with strong undertows.

If you enjoy water play with your dog, take a moment to strap on your dog's safety vest.

Hot Pavement: We all know our dogs' feet are tough, but are they tough enough to really walk where we won't?  Asphalt gets unbelievably hot. Pads softened by playing in water are even more vulnerable to burning. Keep and eye on your dogs feet, and if she gets burned pads, flush with cold water and see your vet.

Hot Cars: Not the kind that look cool, but the kind that can make your dog seriously ill or worse. You get into your car and can hardly breath because it's so very hot. Even with the windows down, the inside temperature of your car is simply too hot for survival. Unless your dog will NOT be left in the car, he should stay at home. Period. End of story. 

Share these flyers with local businesses, and print some to leave on cars that have pets in them with the windows down. If the windows are merely cracked a few inches, it is too hot for the dog. Call animal control or find the owner. Don't Wait!

Doug and Justice have some skateboarding fun.
Too Much Play: Can lead to heat stroke. Avoid hard play during the hot time (mid-day) of the day. Some dogs simply don't want to stop playing. You'd think they'd know when they're becoming uncomfortable, but they'd rather keep playing or jogging with you. A panting tongue that's out too far, will be your first clue that it's time for a break. Add a kiddy pool to your play time!
Pool time after play makes Justice a happy boy!

Signs of Heat Stroke include (but are not limited to):
  • body temperatures of 104-110F degrees
  • excessive panting
  • dark or bright red tongue and gums
  • sticky or dry tongue and gums
  • staggering
  • stupor
  • seizures
  • bloody diarrhea or vomiting
  • coma
  • death
Seek veterinary attention immediately!

  • Get your dog out of the sun!
  • Cool your dog with cool water, not ice water. (Very cold water will cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling.)
  • Place cool, wet cloths on your dog's feet and around his head.
  • If your dog's temperature is under 103 F degrees, do not try to cool---some dogs can actually get HYPOthermic or too cold if they aren't over-heated.
  • Offer ice cubes for the animal to lick on until you can reach your veterinarian, but DO NOT force ice or water on your dog.
Learn more about heat stroke by following the link, and stay cool.

Photo credits: swimming dog copyright Matt Barber; dog in life jacket copyright Soggydan; dog using hose copyright Wonderlane, woman on beach copyright WJ Harrison. 

Michelle McKenzie lives in Grass Valley, with her six dogs, two cats and a foster kitty, three horses and two donkeys. And a very understanding husband.


  1. I totally agree about not leaving your dog in a car, but the first thing I do now is contact animal control.. Why? Because I confronted a couple who left their dog in their car and it turned into a heated and ugly confrontation and I was threatened. So... I contact animal control and let them deal with it.

    1. You certainly don't need to get in a confrontation! Good for you for calling Animal Control. I hope the dog was okay.

  2. Good job Michelle and such important information. A dog left in a car on a hot day can go into serious distress in less than five minutes.