Summer brings outdoor activities for the entire family, including your dog. However, your dog's health is in greater danger in the summer, not only because of the increased amount of time that it spends outdoors, but also because of hazards that are unique to the summer season.
The "dog days of summer" heat
Although the term describing the hottest and most humid period of summer sounds dog-friendly, it poses the risks of serious heat-related illness or death. As in humans, a dog's body temperature may rise beyond the capacity of the body's cooling mechanisms to compensate when exposed to excessive heat for an extended period of time.
This is especially true for very young, old, or overweight dogs, or those with a thick coat. Exercise should be curtailed and limited to early morning or evening hours. Remember that your dog doesn't wear shoes, and may suffer painful burns when walking on hot asphalt.
Never leave a dog in a vehicle in the summer season with the windows open. Temperatures inside a vehicle, even on a mild day, can climb very quickly and cause death from hyperthermia, or elevated body heat.
When a dog suffers from heat stroke, the internal mechanisms that work to lower body temperature are overwhelmed and shut down, leading to eventual organ failure and death. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- excessive panting and thirst
- disorientation or lethargy
- vomiting or profuse drooling
- dizziness or unconsciousness
If your dog exhibits these symptoms, you must get them to a cool area and wet them with cool water, give them small drinks of water, and seek immediate veterinary services.
Lawn care products and chemical fertilizers are usually non-lethal, but can cause stomach issues if ingested insufficient quantities. Bone meal fertilizers, which are considered more natural alternatives to chemicals, are actually more dangerous for dogs.
Dogs are naturally attracted to these animal-based products, and will eat them in sufficient quantities to cause intestinal blockages or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), resulting in severe illness and the need for veterinary care through a company like Capitol Animal Clinic.
Your vehicle will produce more heat with the air conditioner running at full blast in summer heat. This causes the engine coolant to heat and expand, flowing out through the overflow tube and onto streets and driveways.
Most automotive coolants contain ethylene glycol, which has a naturally sweet taste and attracts dogs, and can be fatal if ingested in sufficient quantities.
Summer can be fun for both dogs and their owners, but dogs rely on their owners to keep them safe and healthy during the summer season and all year long.