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Summer Safety - for Dogs

There is nothing better than a day out in the sunshine with your four-legged best friend, but pets feel the heat very differently to us humans. Here’s how you can keep your pets safe in the summer heat.

summer safety tips for dogs

First and foremost, there is no magical solution that will allow your pooch to safely sit alongside you on a 40-degree day for hours on end. We recommend skipping the doggie outing altogether if temperatures are close to, or over, 30 degrees. 

Also, remember every dog is different, some breeds are more susceptible to heat-related issues than others. Brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses and flat faces) like Bulldogs and Pugs have a harder time cooling themselves through panting and may be more prone to heat stress.

ways to protect dogs from heat in summer

Summer Safety for Dogs Outside

Before you head out, we highly recommend some dog shoes. These may seem over the top for some, but considering sidewalks and roadways heat up exponentially faster than the air temp, we think it’s a given for any Australian summer. 45-degree days have even been known to melt roadways, imagine how your poor pooches' feet might feel. 

A great rule of thumb is, if you can’t stand barefoot for 10 seconds, they can’t stand at all. And I’m sure we don’t even need to get started on how hot sand can get. We’ve all done the tippy-toe run from our towels to the water's edge. There’s a huge range of dog shoes available - slipping over the toe and fastening above the paw. You can even get waterproof versions!

keeping your dog safe from heat

Some sunscreen can never go astray on a hot summer’s day. However, all dogs with light fur or very short fur can be susceptible to sunburn. It’s recommended to apply a pet-friendly sunscreen before leaving the house, and every two hours, focusing on areas like the tips of ears and nose. 

Once you’re out and about, you should remember that unlike us, dogs are terrible sweaters! When we go outside on a hot day, our body will start regulating its temperature almost immediately by activating those sweat glands we all love so much. When the sweat evaporates, air cooling occurs, bringing down our body temp.  

protect dog from sun in summer

Dogs have two types of sweat glands; the merocrine glands and apocrine glands. The merocrine glands function similarly to human sweat glands but are located in the paw pads. Pretty smart considering dogs are covered in fur, body-bound sweat glands wouldn’t really do the trick. The apocrine glands are located across the body and their main purpose is to release pheromones.

Alas, dogs do not cool down by having sweaty paws. The main way a dog controls its body temperature is through panting! This leads me to my next, and most important point - water! Dogs can expel a huge amount of hydration through this respiratory function.

As a Great Dane owner, I can report this first-hand - it ain’t pretty. In hot weather, it’s important to keep your dog hydrated. Make sure there is clean water readily available wherever you are going, and it’s always helpful to bring your own transportable supply and water bowl.

dog covered in sand on a beach towel

Whilst ice treats can be great for dogs that are in a resting, relaxed state on a hot summer's day - it may be best to leave the ice-cold water at home for your big day out. It has been reported that ingesting a large amount of ice + ice cold water quickly can cause a cold shock leading to a rise in internal temperature. If you’re really looking to bring your dog's internal temperature down, externally, try a cooling mat or cooling vest.

Dogs can, and do, suffer from over-exertion and heat stroke just like we do. If you think your dog may be showing symptoms, including excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, and, in severe cases, collapse, take immediate measures to cool the dog down and remove them from any sun exposure. 

If symptoms persist, contact your nearest vet. And of course, never leave a dog unsupervised in a car on a hot day, and if you see a dog unsupervised in a car - be sure to contact the local police. 


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