As the cooler spring weather gives way to the hot summer months, you'll be spending more time outside with your dog, walking and playing in the sunshine. But while you are having fun, you will need to keep your dog cool to protect him from heat-related illness and injury.
Most people don't think about their pets getting sunburned but they can. White and lightly colored pets can suffer sunburn just as we can if they experience too much exposure to the sun. Long-term sun exposure can lead to skin damage and in some cases skin cancers. Limit the amount of time your fair-haired pets stay in direct sunlight. Basking in a sunny window counts as time in the sun. If any type of discoloration or sore appears, consult your veterinarian for a check-up. Areas that are commonly affected are the ears, eyelids and nose.
When a dog's body temperature exceeds his ability to cool himself a heat injury occurs. Unlike people, a dog's normal body temperature ranges between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. When body temperature elevates above 106 F, normal cooling mechanisms are overwhelmed, which results in a serious condition requiring intervention and medical treatment. This type of temperature elevation is different from a fever, which is a normal response to inflammation or infection.
Heat stress can happen quite rapidly, sometimes only in a few minutes, especially in dogs that live primarily indoors. Even pets that live or spend a lot of time outside can succumb to the heat if their cooling mechanisms are exceeded by weather extremes.
Some breeds are more prone to heat injury than others. Large double-coated breeds like the Chow and dogs bred for life in cold climates such as Malamutes, Huskies, American Eskimos and Newfoundlands often have little tolerance for heat and humidity. Dogs with shorter faces such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Shar-peis and Boston Terriers have less ability to cope with a heat load due to their short and narrow respiratory systems.
Fortunately, your Farm Bureau member benefit provider, USAPetMed offers tips to help your dog stay cool in the summer.
1. Offer an ice pack or wet towel to lay on.
2. Add ice cubes to the water dish.
3. Make shade by stringing up a tarp, cloth, or use a shade screen.
4. Place a wading pool with shallow, cool water in a shady spot in the yard.
5. Bring a collapsible water dish on your walks.
6. Avoid walking on hot pavement and consider booties.
7. Plan outdoor playtime and walks in the early morning hours.
Editor’s note: For more information on our member benefits including our regional benefits go to Arizona Farm Bureau’s member benefits page online. Or, download the Member Benefits app to your smart phone for easy, everyday access to your benefits.