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Summertime’s here and for a few short months it’s a whirlwind of family vacations, days at the pool or beach, kids thrilled to be out of school, and backyard barbeques. You take plenty of precautions to make sure your family is safe when the weather heats up, so don’t forget about your furry family members! If you aren’t careful, dogs can suffer from effects of heat and sun exposure, so keep these tips in mind to keep your pet safe during the dog days of summer.

Think about how great a tall, cool glass of water feels after you’ve been outside in the hot summer sun. It’s the same for your dog, except he’s not able to open the fridge and grab some ice water. He depends on you. That’s why it is absolutely essential that you provide your dog with cool, clean water at all times, especially during the warm months. Make sure his water bowl inside the house is full, and place another one outside in a shaded area when you are out in the backyard with him. Bring water with you if you are traveling in the car with your dog, or even on walks.

Speaking of your backyard, take a good long look around and make sure that your outdoor space is ready for the summer. Is there shade for your dog to relax in after running around? Is there cool water available? Have you treated the yard for ticks and other nasty parasites? When your dog is out having fun and exploring your yard on a warm summer day, you should be with him. This way you can watch for signs that he’s getting overheated or suffering from heatstroke. Never leave your dog tied up in the backyard. Not only is it dangerous in extreme weather, it can also lead to behavior problems like excessive barking and territory aggression.

Your dog loves your daily walks around the block. He gets his exercise and he gets to explore and sniff out all the great scents of your neighborhood. But imagine how hot the sidewalk or asphalt might get in the middle of those hot summer days. You might think your dog’s paws are tough enough to withstand hot pavement, but his paw pads are susceptible to burning. If the surface is too hot for you to walk on barefoot, then it’s probably too hot for your dog as well. To avoid paw-pad burns, walk your dog early in the morning or late at night, when the pavement is cooler. Try switching up your routine and walking him in a dog-friendly park or somewhere grassy. If you are putting your dog in the car, place a wet towel on the driveway for him to stand on while you open the door. If your dog does end up with injured paw pads, take him to your vet immediately. Paw pad burns get infected easily, so they need medical attention right away.

It may be tempting to leave your dog in the car “just for a minute” while you are running an errand, but just don’t do it. Every year thousands of dogs suffer from heatstroke from being left in a hot car—and many end up dying. Even if the day feels mild or there are clouds in the sky, it’s still incredibly dangerous to leave your pet in the car. On a 72°F day, the temperature inside a car can soar to 117°F in a fairly short amount of time. Dogs left inside cars are not able to regulate their internal temperatures, and heatstroke can result. Even if you leave the window down your dog is not safe, as he can only cool down through panting, and the heat inside the car can be too much for his system. (Plus, leaving the window down just creates more safety issues—including your dog jumping out of the window and running away or getting stolen.) A dog can suffer brain damage and die from heatstroke far too easily, so be smart and don’t leave your dog in a parked car!

Even if you are very careful about exposing your dog to high temperatures, heat stroke can happen. Signs include heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, excessive salivation, dark red tongue and gums, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of coordination, and loss of consciousness. If you think your dog might be suffering from heatstroke move him to a cool, shaded area or into an air-conditioned vehicle. Call your vet. You’ll need to try to lower your dog’s body temperature without shocking him. Douse him with cool water, try to get him to drink small amounts of water, and if a fan is available place him in front of it. If he begins shivering remove the fan. Once he is cool, get him to the vet immediately.

With some basic precautions, you and your dog can have a fun, safe summer!

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