Summer is the time for sunshine, trips to the beach, and delicious afternoon barbeques. But with the rising temperatures and long sunny days, there are some precautions you can take to keep your service dog safe and cool.
Below are 6 tips to keep your service dog companion cool and comfortable during the summer.
Keep your service dog hydrated
Dogs are susceptible to heatstroke and dehydration, just as humans are. Keeping your service dog hydrated is imperative. Make sure to always keep water with you while your pup is on duty and that they stay well hydrated. During the hottest parts of summer, you can even give your pup ice water or ice cubes to lick. If they are already overheated a bit, misting them and cooling them off with a fan will be the safest for them.
Keep your service dog out of direct sunlight
Try to keep your service animal out of the direct sunlight. Dogs can get sunburned and overheat in direct sunlight. Try to alternate from direct sunlight to indoor or shady spots. If possible, complete your activities and walk your dog in the cooler parts of the day such as the early morning or late afternoon.
When there is a heat advisory in effect it is best to stay inside. If this is not possible, consider resuming activity in the cooler parts of the day.
Be aware of hot asphalt and sand
Asphalt, blacktops, and sand can reach dangerous temperatures. These surfaces can burn the pads on a dog’s paws. Keep your dog on sidewalks or grassy areas and try to avoid dark-colored surfaces. You can do a heat check on surfaces by putting your hand on the surface for five seconds. If it is too hot for you, then it will be too hot for your pooch.
If your service animal must walk on hot surfaces, consider getting some breathable doggy boots, like the ones Zach is wearing above, to protect their delicate paw pads. Breathable doggy boots are necessary since dogs sweat through the pads in their paws.
Never leave your service dog in the car
As a service dog, there may not be a lot of times you will be leaving your pup in the car, but this is still worth mentioning. It is important that a dog never be left in the car, especially when the weather is warming up. Depending on the tint and interior, a car can reach 172 degrees when the outside temperature is 80-100 degrees.
Even with cracked windows, it is not safe to keep a dog in the car, even just for a few minutes
Keep your pup safe from fireworks
Summer of course means 4th of July celebrations. Service dogs have been trained for noise sensitivity, but the sound of fireworks and gunshots can still make a service dog uneasy or stressed. Make sure that their tags are on and up to date with contact information, just in case. The best thing to keep your pup safe during the firework action is to keep them indoors. Putting your dog inside with some white noise, such as a fan, can help them feel safer. Make sure that all the doors and gates in your house are locked to insure that your service dog doesn't run away due to the loud firework sounds.
Look out for poisonous plants
Be aware of the season’s poisonous plants. Here on the central coast, poison oak, or poison ivy is one of the most well-known. A dog’s fur usually protects them from the likes of poison ivy, but it can still be harmful if exposed to a dog’s skin or ingested. They can even transfer poison ivy even to humans.
Check out this list of toxic and non-toxic plants from the ASPCA website. The safest route is to make sure your service dog doesn’t get too close to plants that you do not know are safe.
Summer and sun are the time for fun. These tips will better prepare you and your service dog from the season’s pitfalls. Know the signs of heatstroke such as excessive panting, increased heart rate, and disorientation. If you suspect your service dog is overheating, please consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
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- Grace, Kea “Tips to Keep Your Service Dog Cool and Comfortable This Summer” Anything Pawsable. 11 June 2020.
- Galindo, Sagay. “Breakdown: How Hot It Gets In Your Car & Why It Can Be Deadly.”
- Macpherson, Devon “5 Tips for Helping Your Service Dog Beat the Heat” Anything Pawsable. 4 August 2015
- “Stay Chill, Dog! Keeping Your Service Dog Safe and Cool This Summer” Superdog