With the arrival of warmer weather, the desire to get outside with our canine companions is natural and healthy. Who doesn’t love a stroll in the sun, playing fetch in the park, or just relaxing in the shady backyard? While the summer months are meant for barbecues, boat rides, and beaches–all of which Fido can enjoy with you–it’s important to be aware of some of the hidden dangers summer fun can pose to your pooch, and to take precautions to keep him safe as you take advantage of summertime together. Specific dangers in your backyard or out for a walk can include not only heat in general, but also scorching blacktop that can burn your dog’s pads, dehydration due to lack of water, heat exhaustion, and poisonous substances from plants to automotive fluids and yard chemicals. If you and Rufus enjoy time on the water, you should be aware of dangers such as drowning and sunburn.
Even in the comfort of an air-conditioned home, dangers can lurk, such as unscreened, opened windows. While going for a ride in the car might be safe enough, leaving Fido in a parked car can prove life-threatening. The good news? There are lots of ways to mitigate or prevent these problems from endangering your pet, from canine life vests to portable water bottles, from elevated mesh beds to canine sunscreens, from waterproof booties to cooling vests and pads. Even with precautions, though, your dog could suffer from heat stroke, so being able to recognize the signs of this dangerous condition, as well as knowing what to do should your dog exhibit them, is crucial to Bingo’s health and safety. We’ll be sure to cover not only ways to prevent heat-induced illness and injury, but also how to recognize it and what to do if your dog seems to be suffering.
In the Backyard
Whether for a quick potty break or a longer romp in the grass, when you let your dog out to the backyard or kennel area, there are several precautions you can take to protect him from the heat. If your dog spends time outside in a kennel, be sure there is no blacktop in the kennel, as it becomes hot very quickly and can burn your dog’s pads, not to mention make his area much hotter than necessary, as the sun’s heat radiates off the blacktop. You also want to make sure Rover has ample shade, whether from trees or from some other form of shelter, such as a tarp or lean-to. Making fresh, clean water available is also a priority, as dogs dehydrate quickly. Be sure to change the water regularly, and that it is always in your dog’s reach.
If you plan to spend a significant amount of time in the yard with your dog, try filling a small kiddie pool with water for wading. Your dog can dip in for a soak whenever he feels hot. Just be sure to supervise your dog at all times around the pool, as drowning is another summer danger. Be sure to empty the pool before going inside, and don’t ever let your dog outside without supervision when the pool contains water.
Petacc Pet Bed Elevated Pets Beds Mesh Pad Dog House for Pets, Breathable, Superior Weight Capacity
If your dog will spend lots of time outside this summer, try providing him with an elevated bed, which will allow air to pass underneath it, keeping him cooler. Two possibilities include Petacc’s Elevated Mesh Pad Pet Bed (pictured above and available on Amazon) and Spot and Bella’s Heavy Duty Elevated Pet Bed (pictured below and also available on Amazon). As an added bonus, the Petacc bed comes with a shade.
Spot & Bella Heavy Duty Elevated Pet Bed (Small) With Extremely Durable, Breathable, Tear Resistant Mesh Cover with Steel Square Tube Frame
Unfortunately, heat isn’t the only danger summertime poses to your dog. There are many hidden dangers right in his own backyard. Lawn and garden insecticides, as well as citronella, are poisonous not only to bugs, but also to dogs. The same goes for poisons you might use against mice, moles, or other rodents. Even some mulches and plants can prove toxic to your canine companion. With so many dangers lurking around every corner of the fence, how can you safely let Fido outside?
To start, check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants, and avoid planting the dangerous varieties anywhere that might allow your dog to access them. Fortunately, your dog would have to ingest part of the plant to suffer any harm, but because some dogs do exhibit a tendency to gnaw on items they find in the backyard, we recommend being safe over sorry.
Next consider avoiding mulch, particularly cocoa mulch, in areas of your yard that your dog is likely to frequent. For more information, visit the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control page, and listen to their podcast about garden safety for your dog.
If you plan to bring your dog along to any cookouts–or host one of your own–keep in mind that many cookout staples can include ingredients that are toxic to dogs, such as grapes, onions, and beer. For a more complete list of foods to keep away from Fido, visit the ASPCA’s list.
Going for a Walk
Walking doesn’t stop when the mercury climbs, but it’s important to be smart about safe summer walking. If possible, try to walk your dog during the early morning hours, before the heat of the day, or in the evening, after the hottest part of the day has passed. Keep your dog on grassy surfaces if possible, as grass will be cooler than concrete or blacktop, and avoid asphalt that can burn Bingo’s paws and quickly overheat short dogs as heat radiating off the asphalt is close to their bodies.
Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax, 60-Gram
If keeping your dog in the grass or walking during cooler parts of the
day is challenging, you might consider purchasing doggy booties to
protect your pooch’s pads. Check out Petacc’s Dog Paws Protector
Waterproof Dog Shoes on Amazon and pictured below. Another
option is salve that can both protect your dog’s paws against hot
surfaces and soothe burned pads. Try Musher’s Secret Paw Protection Wax
Petacc Dog Paws Protector Waterproof Dog Shoes Weave Dog Boots Reflective Velcro Straps and Anti-Slip Sole, Crismson Red in Size 5
If you plan to walk for longer than 15 minutes, consider that your dog is likely to grow thirsty in the heat, and carry with you a portable water bowl or bottle. We recommend HighWave AutoDogMug or Gulpy Jr. Water Dispenser, both shown below and available on Amazon.
Highwave AutoDogMug 20oz Water Bottle for Dogs, Auto Dog Mug Color Blue
Gulpy Jr. Water Dispenser for Pet, 10-Ounce(Colors may vary)
Finally, to help keep your dog cool on his summertime strolls, you might want to outfit him with a cooling bandana, like the All for Paws Chill Out Ice Bandana on Amazon, shown below. This fashionable bandana will not only make Fido look cuter than he already does, but can help keep him comfortable during your walks together this summer.
All for Paws Chill Out Ice Bandana, Large
As a final note, remember that keeping your dog on year-round heart worm preventative is crucial to his health and safety. Dogs with heart worms are more prone to heart trouble in the heat, when their bodies grow stressed trying to stay cool, and their heart rate and respiratory rate may increase.
Going for a Ride
While a summertime joy ride with the wind in his ears is likely a favorite activity for your dog, never, ever leave him in a parked car. Going for a car ride with the windows down or air conditioner running is probably a lot of fun for Fido–but the moment you roll up the windows or turn off the air conditioner and step outside of the car, leaving your dog to wait, the cab becomes a veritable oven. Even if the outside temperature is a comfortable 70 degrees, the sun can rapidly heat your car to a sweltering 90 degrees. And don’t be fooled by cloud cover or shade. Clouds still allow sunshine through and shade moves, so if your two-minute trip into the store becomes 20, your car–and your dog–may no longer be in the shade when you return.
Even if you don’t leave Bingo waiting in the car, it can pose a threat to his health and safety, sitting right in your driveway. Because liquids expand in the heat, there’s a greater chance your antifreeze or radiator fluid will overflow in the summer months. Both contain ethylene glycol, which is toxic to dogs. To help protect your pooch from this poison, try using an antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead. While still not 100% safe for your dog, it is safer. The best thing you can do to keep your dog safe is to keep him away from any colorful puddles that may contain oil, radiator fluid, or antifreeze, whether from your own car or parked cars along your route.
Out on the Water
Summer offers a variety of ways to enjoy the water, from the boat to the beach to the swimming pool. No matter what body of water you enjoy with your dog, be sure to never leave him unsupervised. If you would be watching a child, you should be watching your dog. One of the best ways to keep Fido afloat is simply equipping him with a canine life jacket, available online and at most pet stores. If you need to keep him cool during stints on the hot sand or sitting on a pool deck or an anchored boat, consider getting him a canine cooling vest, like the one pictured below from Ruffwear on Amazon.
Ruffwear – Swamp Cooler, Cooling Vest for Dogs, Graphite Gray, Medium
Just like people, pets can suffer from sunburn, but sunscreens safe for humans are not safe for use on your dog. There are, however, a number of canine sunscreens available, like Beach & Dog Co’s Canine Sunscreen from Amazon. To learn more about choosing the right sunscreen for your dog, listen to this podcast.
Canine Sunscreen – Zinc and Titanium Dioxide Free – All Natural and Organic Formula for Dogs (2 oz Twist Stick)
Finally, be sure to bring plenty of clean water for your dog to drink
and avoid allowing him to drink from the pool, beach, lake, etc., as
pool water contains toxic chemicals and salt water can lead to
After all the fun, be sure to rinse Rufus off to
get rid of any chemicals or salt that may be on his coat. Many dogs will
lick their coats dry, and if your dog is not properly rinsed, you risk
his ingesting chemicals, salt, or bacteria that may have been in the
In the House
Just as outside, an elevated bed inside can help Fido cool his jets when he wants to take a snoozer. Fresh, clean water is also just as imperative inside as it is outside. Be sure to change the water often, and keep it full. Another way to help keep your dog cool inside is to keep the air conditioner running at a comfortable temperature and utilize fans.
If your dog is still too hot in the house, consider getting him a cooling bed mat like the Whalek Pet Cooling Mat, pictured below and available on Amazon. This mat can rest directly on the floor, or you can place it atop your dog’s bed.
Whalek Pet Cooling Mat Pet Cooling Pad, Dog Self Cooling Mat Pad for Kenn els, Crates and Beds for XL Dogs 37X31.5 Large Blue, with Pet Comb
If the weather outside is cool enough to warrant open windows, be sure to secure the screens on every window so your dog cannot jump or fall out. If any of your windows do not feature screens, refrain from opening them, instead keeping them closed to prevent Bingo from escaping into the summer heat.
Heat Stroke Prevention
Following the tips in this article, such as providing clean water, shade, shelter, air conditioning, and fans are all good ways to protect your dog from heat-induced illness or injury. But even if you take all the precautions explained above, your dog could potentially suffer from heat stroke. Young dogs, old dogs, flat-faced dogs such as Pugs and Pekingese, and dogs with heavy coats such as Huskies are most at risk, but any dog could fall victim to the heat.
It’s important to be attentive to your dog’s behavior, energy level, appetite, and bowel movements. Know the symptoms listed below, and be on the lookout for them.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
In order to save your dog if he does come down with heat stroke, you need to be able to recognize the symptoms. A dog may manifest any combination of the following signs:
- intense panting
- fast breathing
- increased heart rate
- weakness or collapse
- bloody diarrhea
- body temperature exceeding 104 degrees.
Help! I Think My Dog Has Heat Stroke.
If you notice the symptoms listed above in your dog, immediately take him to the vet. Drive with the car’s air conditioner running at its highest setting, and if possible, have a passenger in your car pour cool water on hairless parts of your dog’s body, like the pads of feet and his belly, but do not use ice.
Keep Cool, Clifford
While the summer heat can pose many threats to your dog’s health and safety, they are not insurmountable, and they need not ruin Fido’s fun in the sun. Take precautions to keep Clifford safe and cool, such as using heart worm preventative, providing him with ample shade and water, avoiding blacktop on walks whenever possible, and using some of the products described above, such as cooling vests, cooling pads, portable water bottles, canine sunscreen, elevated beds, and canine life jackets. Know the signs of heat stroke, and never leave your dog unattended in a parked car or unsupervised around even very shallow water.
If you need more great podcast sources, check out our list of the best podcast for dog lovers.