Summer, with its sunshine, beach romps, and fresh emerald grass, seems a dog’s paradise, but the summer season actually poses the most dangers to our pets. The biggest culprit of them all is the sun, leading to scorched paws, sunburns, heatstroke, and even loss of life. Every year, lives are lost due to extreme heat in cars. Heat can rise rapidly in cars—on a sunny day, temperatures rise about 10°C (50°F) above the temperature outside within 10 minutes, San Francisco State University meteorologist Jan Null tells The Globe and Mail. After 30 minutes it’s 19°C (66°F) hotter in a car than it is outside.
“It’s a lot hotter than most people think,” Null says. “On a 27° C (80°F) day, the dashboard can be 82°C (180°F) or hotter.”
Since dogs and children are smaller on average than their parents, their core temperature can increase three to five times faster than that of an adult. So if you’re running errands, leave your dog at home—everything has a way of taking longer than you expect it to.
The sun can also wreck havoc on your dog’s sensitive paws. The surface of an asphalt road can get as hot as 60°C (140° F) on a hot summer day. Would you want to walk barefoot on that? If you live somewhere hot, protect your dog’s feet with a pair of dog booties. Muttluk’s, for instance, makes weatherproof boots that afford great protection against the sun and do double duty, protecting your pup’s paws from salt and ice in the winter.
And sunburns for dogs are real. Just because dogs have fur coats doesn’t mean they are protected from burns. Thin-coated and light-coloured dogs are particularly vulnerable, and the delicate noses and ears of all dogs are susceptible to the sun’s harsh rays. The University of Saskatchewan advises the use of pet-specific sunscreens only, not human sunscreens, which can contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs, such as zinc oxide, octyl salicylate, and ethylhexyl salicylate. Warren London Dog Sunscreen, which is non-toxic and contains moisturizing aloe vera, is a great choice. And be sure to keep your dog hydrated with plenty of water. The American Kennel Club warns to be aware of signs of dehydration, including reduced energy levels, panting, loss of appetite, dry nose and gums, and sunken, dry-looking eyes.
Water can be dangerous as well—an alarming number of dogs drown in swimming pools every year. Install a pet ramp, such as Skamper Ramp, in your pool so that your pup can climb out if she falls in, and prevent your dog from reaching the water unsupervised in the first place with a pet enclosure or gate. Lucky Dog Pet Kennels provide enclosures that put an emphasis on dog safety, great for even for “escape artist” dogs like Huskies. (They also make kennels with roofs to provide shelter and protect against UV protection.)
If your dog ever does escape your house, yard or petsitter, you can be prepared for that as well. (The American Humane Association estimates that ten million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year.) Set up your pup with a Help4Pets ID tag. These easy-to-spot ID tags are like a 911 call for your pet—if someone finds your dog and calls the number, they’re connected with a team of specialists who will contact you and help in any emergency. You can ensure that medical treatment is authorized in case your pet is found injured and you can’t be located, or they can provide emergency vet referrals if your vet is unavailable or if you are travelling. With nothing to plug in or scan, you can ensure that help for your dog is just a phone call away!