Keeping pooches safe when the temperature climbs

To escape heat and humidity, humans just go in the house, turn up the air conditioning or drink a glass of ice water. But what about our four-legged friends? Every year, thousands of dogs suffer from heat-related injuries or deaths that are totally preventable. So lets prevent them.

Made in the shade

It’s usually fine to leave dogs outside during the day if you provide them with two essentials:

1. Shade

2. Cool, fresh water

A dogs coat helps regulate its body heat and protect it from extremes. That’s why I don’t recommend shaving longhaired or thick-coated dogs for the summer. But dogs still need shelter from the direct sunlight. Make sure your yard has a shady spot big enough to protect your pal as the sun changes angles throughout the day.

Water works

Dogs dehydrate faster in hot weather. This means rehydration is especially important. Keep your dogs water in a shaded spot so it doesn’t heat up too much or evaporate too quickly. Try this: In the morning, fill the water bowl with ice cubes. As they melt during the day, your dog will have cool water to drink.

If your dog tends to spill water while playing near the bowl, set some heavy rocks in the bottom of the bowl to make it harder to tip over. Or, drive a wooden dowel into the ground, leaving 6-8 inches of the wood exposed, then fill a Bundt pan with water and place it over the exposed dowel. The wood will act as an anchor, making it tough for your dog to play with its water supply.

No such thing as safe car time

Never leave your pets unattended in a parked carnot even with the windows cracked, in the shade or just for a while. In 90F weather, a car’s interior temperature can soar to more than 120F in minutes. Thats potentially lethal. Once dogs begin to overheat, they start to pant. In that kind of heat, panting cant cool them down, but it does emit even more heat. That’s a vicious cycle that can cost you your pet.

As you brave the summer heat, remember your dogs. With a little planning, they can enjoy the season as much as you do.

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Jeff Werber, D.V.M., has been a practicing veterinarian for 27 years. He is owner and founder of the Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. Visit jeffwerberproducts.com for more information about his pet-care products.