Health Tips – Dog Days of Summer

Summer time is a season full of great opportunities to do things outdoors.  As we prepare ourselves for the hot days ahead by buying sunscreen, and water bottles to take with us on excursions, it is important not to forget about our four footed companions.  Here are some mindful health tips to help us take care of our pets.


Health Tip 1: CARS

It does not take long for the temperature to rise inside a car on a warm day.  A car can go from 25C to 71C while in the sun.  Temperatures of 47C can be reached inside the car even while sitting in the shade.  A dog’s normal temperature is about 39C.  An internal temperature of 41C can only be withstood for a very short period of time before irreparable damage or death can occur. Contrary to popular belief, rolling down the windows does not help.   On really warm days, it may be better to leave one’s pets in the safety of one’s home.



Many people believe the hottest time of the day is around noon, when the sun is at its peak.  In reality, the hottest time of the day is around 3pm.  Heat continues to build up after noon as heat energy from the sun continues to surpass the amount of heat lost from the atmosphere.  By 3 pm, the sun is low enough in the sky that no additional heat will accumulate.   During the peak hours of noon till 3 pm, heat can put animals at risk of heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, anxiety and in severe cases collapse and convulsions. One also has to be mindful of hot surfaces.  The black colour of asphalt will absorb a large amount of heat.  We have to remember that we don’t feel the heat because we usually are wearing shoes or sandals.  Walking on hot surfaces can cause burning of the footpads.   To test the heat of a surface, place the back of your hand for at least 5 seconds as this will give you a good indication whether it is safe for your pet.


Health Tip 3: HYDRATION

Just like people, it is very important to stay hydrated in the hot weather.  Making sure there is enough fluids in the body will actually help keep it cooler and will replace the fluids lost in perspiration.  So don’t forget to take extra water for your pet when you head out for some hot summer activity.


Health Tip 4: GROOMING

There are many dogs who don’t have to worry about being out side in the winter because their coats are nice and thick.  Their think coats will help keep their body temperatures warm in the cold winter weather. But it is these double coated dogs that we have to worry about in the heat.  In the summer these coats with lots of undercoat will retain the heat, making the dogs warmer.  It is important to have the undercoats thinned out over the summer.  While a groomer can do a good job of brushing out the extra undercoat, one can do this at home with a good brush and comb.   Resist the urge to shave down your pet.  A dog’s coat provides built- in climate control, as well as a first line of defense against sunburn and twigs


Health Tip 5: COOL OFF

Sprinklers and wading pools are great fun for kids.  They can also offer a way to cool down for our four footed pals.  Many dogs will enjoy playing in the running water from a hose.  Some dogs will actually enjoy splashing in a water filled wading pool.


Stephanie Chen DVM