By: Laurie Brzostowski
With the warmer weather approaching, it is important to be considerate regarding sun safety when out and about with your four legged friend. Here are 5 tips for keeping your dog safe from the sun this summer:
1. Limit sun exposure
Lazy days and naps in the sun are great, but don’t overdo it! When spending time outdoors, be sure that your dog takes regular breaks away from direct sun exposure. Most dogs will naturally seek shade when they get too hot, so be sure that shade is readily available. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will make your dog at risk for sunburn and heat stroke.
2. Always bring fresh water on outings
Dogs perspire and lose water by panting. In the warm weather this can quickly lead to dehydration. In the heat dogs require more water in order to regulate their body temperature. Make sure your dog always has access to clean, fresh water and don’t forget to bring water on outings. Dogs who do not have fresh water provided will often seek out puddles of standing water that contain unwanted bacteria.
3. Protect your dog’s skin from sunburn
Just like humans, dogs are prone to sunburn and harmful UV rays. Sunburn can be prevented with a specially formulated veterinary sunscreen. Look for one with soothing ingredients such as vitamin E and Shea butter. Do not use a human sunscreen as these often contain zinc oxide which is toxic to dogs.
4. Nourish the paws
Concrete pavement and natural surfaces can absorb heat from the sun and cause burns when touched. Humans wear shoes to protect their feet, but dogs do not. Before walking your dog, check the temperature of the pavement - if it’s too hot for you to hold your hand on, then it’s too hot for your dog. For dry or cracked paws, ‘Musher’s wax’ or vaseline can be used for rehydration.
5. Be aware of heat stroke
Heat stroke is a serious concern during the summer months. Signs of heat stroke include difficulty breathing, heavy panting, fever, glazed eyes, excessive salivation, rapid heartbeat, and vomiting. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, move them to a shaded and air-conditioned area, apply ice packs, wet down the fur with cool water, offer water to drink, and seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.