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Chillin' Out: Keeping Your Dog Cool in Hot Weather

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/18/2006 | Pets and Animals
Sunny summer days seem to incite all sorts of fun activities with your dog: from playing fetch in the park to frisbee on the beach. Unfortunately, as temperatures soar, the hot weather also brings with it some very specific hazards such as sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Good news, these threats to your pooch are preventable.

Protecting Your Dog from Sunburn

Just like humans, dogs can be burned by the sun, especially the nose, tips of the ears and around the lip area. Commonsense dictates that you keep your dog in the shade during the hours when the sun's rays are most intense - usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. However, if you need to be outside during these times, it's okay to apply sun-block to your dog's nose and the exposed skin on the ears. It's a little risky to apply sun-block around the lips so instead just keep a close watch and make sure that the area doesn't get too pink. If you notice that any portion of your dog's skin is reddened or blistered, contact your veterinarian right away.

Protecting Your Dog from Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke

Leaving a dog in a parked car during summer weather is the leading cause of heat stroke. Dogs can also suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke if they exercise too heavily on a hot, humid day or, if they live outdoors and don't have shelter from the sun. Dogs are also susceptible if they are overweight or suffer from lung or heart ailments. Older dogs are less tolerant of heat and may succumb to heat strokes more readily than younger dogs.

A few simple actions on your part can help protect your dog from heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

Don't take your dog with you on errands if you need to leave her in the car. However, if you're traveling with your dog and must make a stop, even for the shortest period of time, consider leaving the air conditioner on.

If you're accustomed to taking your dog with you when power-walking, jogging or cycling, don't push her on exceptionally hot days. If she falls behind, let her take a break.

For dogs who live outside, make sure to provide "all-day shade" such as a ventilated doghouse, large beach umbrella or overhang that will remain shaded even when the sun shifts throughout the day.

Keep older dogs and those with lung or heart conditions inside your home on hot days. If you don't have air conditioning, keep a fan running.

Avoid any situations that force your dog to stand on sun-baked surfaces such as cement sidewalks, a truck bed or beach sand. The extreme heat can cause blisters on her pads. If you simply must walk your dog in the heat of the day, tread on grassy areas as much as possible.

Water, Water, Water!

And last but not least...like you, your dog needs to hydrate frequently so be sure to provide unlimited access to cool, clean refreshing drinking water.