It’s mid-summer. Air conditioning is on full blast, you’ve already attended 2-3 cookouts and you are doing your best to stay hydrated. But while you might have your summer wellness routine down to a science, your trusted canine counterpart might not be as aware of the unique challenges that warmer weather can present. And because everyone wants to give their best friend as much TLC as possible, here are five wellness tips for dogs to help them comfortably get through the summer months.
1. Adjust your walking routine: With summer bringing warmer temperatures, your dog might not take too kindly to that 4 p.m. walk. It’s best to choose times of day when your dog can take advantage of cooler temperatures while still getting exercise. In Southern states, where the temperature can hover around 100 degrees F in late afternoon, consider walking your dog first thing in the morning and again after the sun goes down. It’s important to remember that average internal temperature for dogs is between 101 and 102.5 F, and that heat stroke in dogs can occur if their temperature rises above 104 F. Your dog releases heat through their paw pads and by panting, so they have limited ways to deal with heat when compared with humans. And don’t forget to check the ground temperature. If you place your hand on the ground for three to five seconds and it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog as well.
2. Hydrate more than usual: Dogs need three to four times the normal amount of water in the summer, depending on their size and activity level. A general rule of thumb is that your dog needs one ounce of water for each pound of their body weight per day. Bring collapsible water bowls and extra drinking water when you travel with your dog in the summer, and never let them drink water from natural water sources that could harbor parasites or toxins. Additionally, think twice about letting your dog drink from the communal water source at the dog park as it could be unsanitary. And if they’re stubborn, you could also add water to their food or offer them ice cubes to chew on.
3. Beware of antifreeze leaks: Antifreeze is an engine coolant in cars that regulates your car’s engine temperature. It’s typically green and can leak out of cars for a variety of reasons, including corrosion. It’s also highly toxic to dogs, who are attracted to it because it’s sweet-tasting. If your car is leaking antifreeze in your garage or driveway, keep your dog away from it and clean it up. And if your dog ingests it, even a tiny bit, get them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. General rule of thumb (or paw): If you see a green puddle in your driveway, garage or on the street, keep your dog away from it.
4. Stay cool: Allow your dog ample access to shade. If it’s too hot for you outside, it’s too hot for your dog, who runs a higher core temperature than humans. If you’re traveling in a car, consider window shades for your dog and if your dog is pink-skinned with fine hair, consider dog sunscreen for them.
5. Never leave your dog unattended in a hot car: Being stuck in a hot car quickly becomes life threatening. If you need to bring your dog with you, ensure that you are able to safely secure them in the shade outside of the car, or bring a friend who can monitor them in the shade outside of the car. Your safest bet is to leave your dog at home in the safety of air conditioning. Even if your best friend loves car rides, you’re doing them a favor by leaving them home. And finally, it’s also against the law in a lot of states. Check out this full list of state laws that protect animals locked in cars.