If you live in the city and have ever thought “boy, how about this heat” in summer, then think what it’s like for your dog. If short haired dogs can overheat in high temperatures then long haired dogs must suffer terribly! But walking your city dog in summer doesn’t have to be such an ordeal for them — as long as you remain constantly aware of the problem and the ways in which to deal with it:
- Never leave home with your dog without sufficient water to see you through the trip When the heat gets over 85 degrees and you’re going to be outside for longer than 15 minutes you should always carry water with you, unless you know there are going to be places you can stop and get some. Dogs lose a lot of water in the heat due to excessive panting and it has to be replaced. If you have room, a flask of ice cold water is an excellent idea, although a regular bottle will do. Most pet stores sell collapsible pet bowls which are small enough to fit into purses or even pockets — although when it’s really hot out, your dog will be quite happy to drink from your hand. A couple of manufacturers make dog hydration packs that your dog can wear — while these are a little over the top, if you’re going to be outside for a good part of the day you might want to consider looking into one. For extended trips, you may even want to think about making a proper high performance hydration solution for your dog. Similar to human isotonic drinks, these powders come in a range of flavors pleasing to dogs and are available at some pet stores and online.
- Keep your dog’s coat short in summer There is a common urban myth circulating that some long haired dogs are actually “protected” from the heat by their fur. This is absolutely 100% false! Basic physics dictates that fur traps heat and keeps it next to the skin — there is certainly no way in the world fur is going to facilitate a cooling process…the exact opposite is true. Clip long hair down to an inch for the summer months, but never so short that your dog’s skin is visible. Dogs have sensitive skin that is prone to sunburn. If your dog’s skin is visible then think about using a sunscreen spray especially made for dogs. Again, online is the place to find these.
- Stay lazy on extremely hot days! When the heat rises above 90 degrees you should take it very easy with your dog, especially if that heat comes with humidity. Cities generally have less of a breeze than suburban or rural areas and as such very hot temperatures have more of an effect on dogs. Accept that your dog is not going to get as much outdoor exercise as they usually enjoy — and take a slow, easy stroll around the block. Never, ever be tempted to speed walk or jog with your dog on such days. Dogs can and do die in such circumstances. This especially applies to snub-nosed breeds like pugs, Boston terriers and French bulldogs. If the temperature is especially severe then it’s a good idea to dampen your dog in the shower before taking them out. If you come across someone hosing down the sidewalk, ask if they’ll give your dogs a little shower as you pass. Most dogs love this when the heat is brutal!
- Stick to the shade It seems like an obvious point but many people don’t even consider the fact that the shade is considerably cooler than direct sunlight. Choose routes that have shade available and stick to the shaded side of the street. If this means changing your regular route, then so be it. If you have to wait to cross at intersections that are in direct sunshine, then consider waiting a little way back in the shade of a building. This all helps to keep the heat at bay.
- Don’t stand for too long on hot asphalt — avoid metal surfaces Asphalt radiates a lot of heat when it’s been in the sun, so keep your dog moving. A dog’s paws can easily become burned by sitting or standing in one place for too long. Always avoid metal surfaces as you walk since these become even hotter — hot enough to fry eggs in some cases! Take care to walk around metal grates, manhole covers and road plates. If your dog has a real problem with paws and hot surfaces then consider having them wear lightweight dog booties in summer.
- Consider buying dog goggles for your dog If you’re someone who wouldn’t dream about venturing outside on a sunny summer day without sunglasses, then take a minute to consider your dog’s eyes too. They are at as much risk from excessive UV exposure as human eyes and while dogs rarely complain about glare, it might be worth considering buying them a set of dog goggles. These are available in some pet stores and online, fit securely to your dog and give them 100% UV protection. They’ll be the center of attention, but it’s worth it!
Please take care of your dog in summer – far too many dogs die of heat stroke unnecessarily during the hot months and it’s all avoidable. Summer is there to be enjoyed and by taking a few simple measures your dog can enjoy it too!
For more information on our NYC dog walking services and further information about city dog walking, visit King Pup’s website.