Pet Safety Tips for Summer In The City: 7 Ways to Cool Down A Hot Town

by Mary Haight on July 29, 2014

pet safety tips for SummerPet safety tips for Summer in the city with canine friends range from simple fixes like booties to keep those pads from getting burned by hot concrete, to the more elaborate cooling jackets that can help all dogs keep cool, but are especially useful for those who more easily succumb to heat, like our pals with short snouts and pushed in faces, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Pugs, Pekingese, and the like. But more on that later.

Between the chaotic cacophony of gridlocked traffic spewing exhaust in the air, hot metal grates with gaping holes waiting to swallow some small dog’s limbs on a misstep, and the general lack of cooling islands of grass, dogs minds and bodies, even noses, get a very rough workout in the city. (Depending on where you live, you’ll have some additional pet friendly areas for relief so check your local listings for new availabilities.)

Pet Safety Tips for Summer Cool Dogs from Uptown to Downtown

  1. Musher’s Secret, billed as an “invisible boot”, is a wax you apply to the paw pads and protects against heat and ice, or you can buy socks or booties to prevent damage.
  2. Cooling pads are lightly filled with gel that activates when your dog lies down, come in a couple of sizes, are lightweight, and can be handy at the beach or the cafe.
  3. Portable water bowl, some of these are constructed so they can be carried in your back pocket, or if for single use, they fit in a wallet.
  4. Personal misting bottles can be purchased, but nothing fancy is needed. An empty water bottle and a new sprayer/cap that fits the bottle works fine — er, don’t reuse the sprayer from your window cleaner =)
  5. Cooling jackets are a great addition to tools we love, like the cooling collar. The jacket fits like a doggie backpack with sleeves or pockets for gel packs.
  6. Stop at an outdoor cafe if you notice changes in your dog’s breathing and pick a seat in the shade. Give your dog some water and relax until fully recovered.*
  7. If you have a freshwater dog friendly beach in your city, hit the water and remember to take frequent rest periods in the shade.

If you don’t have a beach, go to a park with trees and grass, play some catch or just hang out in the shade together. I have seen photos and heard of some very special play parks for dogs in some cities, so if you’ve got one, we’d love to hear about it!

No list of quick and easy pet safety tips for Summer would be as helpful without mentioning that, while any dog can get sunburned, white haired, especially pink skinned dogs need to use the special sunblock available for dogs…it’s approved for use even on their noses and remember, human sunscreens are not for dogs. T-shirts that fit help too.

Heat Can Be Deadly to Dogs — Watch For These Symptoms

And to wrap it up, we go back to the beginning. Certain breeds of dogs, dogs with health issues, older dogs, dogs out of condition suddenly taken out for activities in hot weather can be especially vulnerable to heat stroke. Tip #6 is important as it can be an early sign of heat stroke. My English Springer Spaniel had stage 1, and the abnormal panting and restlessness caught my attention.

Although dogs can recover from mild heatstroke in about an hour with cool (not cold) water in the tub and a cold pack covered by a wet washcloth for his head and/or neck, you are not always in a place where you can offer what’s needed, or where you can check if his temperature has come back to a normal range (101 -102.5).

A garden hose will work, or many pitchers of water will help if at an outdoor cafe. Massaging your dog’s legs helps circulation which helps prevent shock. This is why you don’t want to use ice to cool your dog down — constricting blood vessels is not helpful to circulation. And yes, dogs can drink water if they want it. [Never force water down a dog’s throat — it could kill him.]

When your dog is recovered, or recovered enough to go to the vet, go. However, if heatstroke is advanced and your dog has collapsed or is shaky on his feet and vomiting, do what you can to cool down the dog’s temperature as you run, don’t walk, to your vet or the emergency clinic. This is a life threatening event, and every minute you stall, system-wide damage is taking place.

There are all kinds of nasty residual things that can happen to your dog that you can’t see, such as blood clots and brain swelling, so don’t think you’re in the clear because Dickens seems to have shaken it off and is himself again. To learn more about heatstroke, take a look at this Southern California Animal Medical Center article. It’s dense reading, but contains great information. There’s a quick video report below that talks about the dangers of heatstroke in dogs even in double digit temperatures.

Pet safety tips for Summer are important to know so you and your dog can have a fun-filled and healthy season without the possible spoiler of an emergency visit to the vets. Any tips you’d like to share?


Further Reading:

4th of July Dog Safety

Heatstroke in Dogs and Cats Infographics

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