The warm weather months serve as a stark reminder that hydration is essential. If you’ve spent any time outdoors in hundred-degree temperatures, you’ve probably personally experienced the side effects of dehydration: nausea, weakness, and headaches, among others.
But what about your dogs?
Your pet experiences those hundred-degree temperatures alongside you. Even worse, many dogs are covered in at least a light coat of fur. It’s important to have water handy for your pet at all times, but how do you know how much water is enough? Here are some tips to help you make sure your dog stays hydrated.
Any time your pet is outside, it’s important to recognize the signs that the weather may be too much. If your pet is panting, drooling, or unusually lethargic, set some water down and, if that doesn’t turn things around, immediately seek a temperature-controlled environment.
At home, you likely have a water bowl in a designated space, but when you leave the house, you leave that convenience behind. Take along a bowl and some bottled water, carrying it in a backpack if you’re going for a walk. You can find portable dog water bowls at any pet store. If you’re traveling, find a designated spot in your hotel or rental home and set up a spot for your pet’s water and food bowls. Most importantly, whether you’re home or traveling, make a habit of keeping an eye on water levels to ensure the bowl doesn’t sit empty for extended periods of time.
A great way to sneak a little extra hydration into your dog’s diet is to add a little water to his kibble. You can do this by literally sprinkling a little water over it or by adding a spoonful of a wet type of dog food.
Stagnant, dirty water is not only unpleasant for the dog, but it can also be unhealthy. Bacteria can build up in water bowls over time. For best results, empty your dog’s water bowl, clean it, and refill it with fresh water at least once per day.
When taking your dog for a walk in higher temperatures, be sure to arrange your walking times to be in the cooler part of the day either early in the morning or later in the evening. When walking your dog in the heat, be mindful that the pavement can get very hot. The best way to check tha the pavement is safe is to do the “5 second” test. Place the palm of your hand down on the pavement. If you can’t hold it there for 5 seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog on it. Take your dog to a grassy area instead.
Be prepared to identify heat stroke when the symptoms present and to help your dog cool down immediately. Heat stroke comes on very quickly, so you will want to be prepared and able to make quick decisions.
Some signs of heatstroke include.
If you see any of these signs and suspect your dog might be experiencing heat stroke, stop what you are doing and carry your dog to a cool and shaded area with moving air. If the symptoms do not improve noticeably, and you are not able to take your dog’s temperature, take your dog to a veterinarian right away.
Take your dog’s temperature with a rectal thermometer if possible. If their temperature is less that 105F, take your dog to the veterinarian. If their temperature is above 105F, there are a few things you can do to slowly reduce their temperature in a safe way. Use cool (not cold!) water to sponge or hose down your dog’s entire body especially their underbelly. Take their temperature every few minutes until their temperature reaches 103F. At that point, stop all cooling procedures and take your dog to the vet to be cared for.
Heading out for some outdoor activity this summer? I have some great tips for keeping your dog safe and healthy during the hottest months of the year. Listen to my podcast episode Summer Safety Tips and Nuisance Barking. You can also download a transcript of the episode if you’d prefer to read through the tips.