During the fun, sunny days of summer, we often forget that our dogs experience the heat much differently than we do. Unlike humans, dogs struggle to manage body heat effectively, making them particularly susceptible to the harsh conditions of summer. This article is intended to educate and warn about two major summer hazards that dog owners often overlook: the dangers of hot cars and the hot ground.
The Severe Danger of Hot Cars
The convenience of popping into a store or a friend’s house while leaving your dog in the car can have disastrous consequences in the summer. Even on a mild 70-degree day, the temperature inside a car can escalate to 90 degrees within just ten minutes, and by half an hour, it can reach a potentially fatal 104 degrees.
To put the rising heat of a car on a summer day in perspective, let's dive into the specifics. On a 75-degree Fahrenheit day, temperatures inside a car can surge to 100 degrees in ten minutes and reach a staggering 120 degrees in 30 minutes. At 85 degrees outside, expect the interior of your car to climb to 104 degrees in ten minutes and rocket to 119 degrees in half an hour. With external temperatures of 95 degrees, it takes only ten minutes for the inside of your car to hit 114 degrees and 30 minutes to reach a scorching 129 degrees.
Given these alarming statistics, it's crucial to avoid leaving your dog in the car during summer, even for a short time or with windows slightly cracked open. If you spot a dog left alone in a hot car, alert the local authorities immediately to ensure the animal's safety.
The Threat of Scorching Pavement
Summer strolls can be fun for dogs and their humans, but hot pavement can pose a serious threat and turn that stroll into a total scorch fest. The ground absorbs heat and can become much hotter than the air temperature, enough to severely burn a dog's sensitive paws.
Let's examine how air temperature correlates to ground temperature:
- At 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius), asphalt can already reach a sizzling 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.6 degrees Celsius).
- On an 86-degree day, asphalt can heat up to a scorching 135 degrees Fahrenheit (57.2 degrees Celsius).
- When the air temperature is 87 degrees Fahrenheit (30.5 degrees Celsius), the asphalt temperature can climb to 143 degrees Fahrenheit (61.6 degrees Celsius).
- If it's 100 degrees outside (37.7 degrees Celsius), expect the pavement to reach an almost unbearable 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius).
Even the lower end of these temperatures is hot enough to fry an egg and can cause severe pain to your dog within seconds of contact. It can even lead to permanent damage if prolonged contact occurs.
To prevent the paws of your dog from being burned, before setting off for a walk, place the back of your hand on the pavement for seven seconds. If it's too hot for you to keep your hand on the pavement for the full seven seconds, it's too hot for your dog. Aim for walks in the early morning or late evening when the ground has had a chance to cool or by walking on cool paths in the mountains or woods. Protective gear like dog booties can also provide a helpful barrier between hot pavement and delicate paws.
General Tips for Protecting Your Dog from Summer Heat
Hydration is vital for your dog during summer. They should have constant access to clean water. When going on bike rides, hikes or extended walks through parks or neighborhoods, be sure to take along water that you can give to your dog. You may even consider a collapsible bowl that you can keep in your pack or pocket so your dog can more easily access and drink the water. This will also help you eliminate waste of water if there is a lack of access to clean water by pouring any unused water from the bowl back into the bottle. Dehydration can lead to severe health problems like kidney failure, so be on the lookout for warning signs such as dry gums, excessive panting, and loss of appetite.
Provide Shade and Cooling Options
If your dog spends time outside, ensure they have a shaded retreat. Consider a dog-friendly sunscreen if your dog has a thin coat. Cooling mats, kiddie pools filled with water, and cooling vests can also help your dog beat the heat.
Watch for Heatstroke Symptoms
Heatstroke can be deadly for dogs and requires immediate veterinary attention. Be vigilant for signs like excessive panting, drooling, red gums, lethargy, and vomiting. If you suspect heatstroke, lower your dog's body temperature gradually by applying cool (not cold) water and rush them to the vet.
Our canine companions depend on us for their well-being. Understanding and being mindful of the risks that summer heat presents can ensure that your dog remains safe and enjoys all of the great activities the season has to offer. After all, being a dog owner isn't just about enjoying their company; it's about providing a safe, loving environment all year round.