Keep Pets Safe in Extreme Heat

We are experiencing a hot, dry summer in Michigan this year. As a pet sitter, I am outside for several hours per day, typically seven to ten days in a row.  A typical day consists of 40-100 miles of driving back and forth to appointments and I walk/jog/run (sprint if I’m being chased by bees or wasps) an average of 40,000 steps per day according to my pedometer.  These credentials make it safe to say that I see a LOT in the course of my day on foot and wheels!

Because I am in the pet sitting/dog walking realm of existence, my eye is naturally drawn during my excursions to scenery that is animal related. I see a LOT of animal movement throughout the day, domesticated and wild!

This year, my eye has been drawn to the habits of people walking their dogs during the hottest times of the day. If you’re reading this blog,  you’re probably a dog parent that is committed to providing your dog with the best quality of life available, which includes a healthy balance of physical and mental stimulation.

Let’s be honest; many of us have to fit in walks, runs or doggy play dates with our pets around our work schedules. Many folks will hire a pet sitter to walk their dogs, feed and provide company for their cats and other pets when they need assistance.  However, we still like to walk, play, cuddle and spend quality time with our dogs when we can.

Summer is a time when many of us are able to spend more time with our dogs outside because of longer daylight hours, vacation time and more energy overall!  When we are in the thick of summer and temperatures become extremely hot and difficult for our pets to handle, we need to remember that they do not process the heat as we do. Time and time again, I see well meaning, loving pet parents not knowingly exposing their dogs to dangerous health issues by not taking precautions when the weather is extremely hot.

Here are five  common exposures to possible heat stroke in dogs by walkers I noticed while out on my daily travels and how to prevent them.

Asphalt is Too Hot

Hot Asphalt AwarenessI often see  dogs being walked on pavement in full sun, during the hottest part of the day (11am-4pm). Asphalt holds heat quickly and retains it, especially in areas where there is little shade. Walk dogs on grass or in shady areas during this hot times. Place the palm of your hand on the pavement. If it’s too hot for your palm, imagine what your dog feels walking on it constantly! Did you know that dogs have sweat glands on the pads of their feet? This is one way they cool off, so imagine how it must feel for them not to be able to sweat because of hot asphalt.  When I walk dogs, I carry a spray bottle when it is really hot and spray the bottom of the feet, nose and hind end area of all the dogs I walk if they seem to overheat. I stay in the shade and carry a portable water bowl as well.

Short-Nosed Breeds , Young and Senior Dogs Need Frequent Breaks and More Water

If your dog  is one of the snub-nosed breeds  like Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, Pekingese and Shih Tzus , they are more susceptible to overheating.  This is the same of puppies and senior dogs. Limit exercise to these dogs to early morning or early evening hours and keep them in the shade. Break walks up into shorter segments. You can also carry a portable water bottle/bowl attachment so that water is readily available.

Provide Plenty of Cool Treats

In the summer, I soak my dogs’ kibble with cool water and/or low sodium chicken broth, especially if I notice they aren’t drinking a lot of water. We keep buckets of water available outside and have water bowls and fountains in every room of our home. It seems as if the more water that is around ‘reminds’ them  to drink more and they stay well hydrated. We also keep  a huge supply of Frozen Kongs available to keep our dogs cool, especially when physical activity is limited because of the heat.

Take Them Swimming

For dogs that like the water, swimming is always a great option for physical exercise! We keep wading pools in the backyard for our dogs, and you can also get pools just for dogs if you want to get really fancy!

No Parked Cars, Even For A Minute

CarTempDogSafetyOn just a mildly warm day, temperatures inside a parked car can rise rapidly to dangerous levels, even with the windows cracked.  Outside, the temperature may be 80 degrees but inside the car, the temperature can rapidly rise to 100 degrees or more. Pets can suffer irreversible organ damage or die.

With a few preventative measures it’s possible for your dog(s) to fully enjoy summer in extreme temperatures.  Many dogs will not readily alert to having signs of overheating or heatstroke, so it is up to human caregivers to be knowledgeable and proactive in  keeping dogs safe in hot summer temps.

Please pass this info along…sharing is caring!


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