Keeping your cool in ‘Dogs Days’ of summer

By Donna G. Adams, D.V.M. Ivy Hill Animal Hospital, PC "Celebrating 20 Years of Serving Johns Creek Pets"

Even though we’ve had a beautiful spring in Atlanta, the hotter days are just around the corner. As responsible pet owners, we all need to keep in mind keeping our pets cool and comfortable during the fierce Atlanta summer.

First off, never leave your pet in a hot car! On a day when the outside temperature is 80 degrees, the inside of a car can reach 100 degrees in just 10 minutes. On a 90 degree day, the inside of a car can reach 119 degrees in 20 minutes.

We have had so many tragedies in Georgia with people leaving pets in a hot car — you would think we would all be mindful of this. But still we have people who take the risk, thinking they can make a quick stop and their pets will be fine. They may not just don’t do it.

For the outside dog, the most important factors are to make sure your dog has plenty of water as well as some shade to get out of the direct sun. Also, allow your pet to get used to the hotter weather gradually. Do not take a dog who has been primarily staying inside with air conditioning and suddenly put them outside all day. That’s a recipe for disaster.

When exercising your pet outside, once again allow them to gradually get used to the hotter weather. If you walk with your dog, do it on a regular basis. Be careful of the surface that your dog is walking on. That asphalt gets hot!

Also, pets should not all of a sudden do very vigorous activity in the hot weather. I have seen cases of people allowing their dog to play with other dogs, and the dogs race around without taking a break. Yes, they are having fun running with their buddies, but many dogs will not do anything half way. They run full force and can get overheated.

If you see your dog start to stumble, stop him immediately. He may be in the beginning stages of a heat stroke and could progress to collapsing. If you think your dog is having a reaction to the heat, give him a cool water bath (not cold) which will help lower his temperature.

Take him to your veterinarian -- even if he seems to feel better.  There are secondary medical conditions that can begin after the worst part of a heat stroke appears to be subsiding so be sure to get him checked out.

Summer provides us lots of opportunities to be outside with our pets. Just take some precautions and enjoy the summer safely. ■


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