It’s not often that we hit 20 or 30 degree weather in Vancouver but when we do, most of us set out to the beach, the dog parks, the playground, the trails, the slurpee stores, you name it! If that means more time spent outdoors for your dog, more car rides, or more outings in general, then it’s wise to know the smarts on sunshine. All tips begin and end with water, water, water!
TIP #1 Never ever leave your dog in the hot car, the risk is harm or death. If you see a dog in a car on a hot day who you believe may be in trouble, call your local SPCA. Dogs don’t sweat! The car provides no way for a dog to release heat. It takes under 10 minutes for a car (even in the shade with cracked windows) to reach dangerous temperatures for dogs. Leave pets at home where they will be more comfortable, rather than in your car.
TIP #2 Learn how to spot an overheated dog. Keep an eye on his or her behaviour and watch for the following symptoms of heat stroke: excessive panting, salivation, anxious expression, lack of coordination, red lips and red tongue (may turn bluish), vomiting, collapse, even coma or death.
TIP #3 Prevent or treat heatstroke! Keep your pup hydrated (no ice, just cool water or ice cream), then bring him or her into the shade, pour cold water on your dog (start from the bottom up, feet, pads, stomach), and fan your dog to keep the coat from evaporating.
TIP #4 Avoid exercising your dog during the day, rather, exercise him or her in the morning or at night. It’s ok to decrease the intensity of exercise in higher temperatures. Carry a bottle of water on walks or strap it to your dog’s vest or bag so he or she feels a sense of purpose. An even better form of exercise in the heat is swimming! Let your dog paddle around in the ocean, the lake, the river or the pool.
TIP #5 Groom your dog to remove excess hair and undercoat. Be careful! Direct sun exposure can lead to burns if hair is too short or skin is exposed. Consult your grooming professional for expert advise.
TIP #6 Create a cool environment in the house or backyard even without A/C. Lay down a cool towel for your dog to lay on, offer a safe place for digging, or set up a kiddie pool. Try filling up an old milk jug with water and freeze overnight. Then leave it in the yard or house where your dog can cozy up to it for relief.
Again, the most important thing is to keep your dog hydrated, so make sure he or she can access the water bowl, which should be kept topped up with fresh cool water often. Enjoy the sunshine safely when you know your dog is happy and healthy!