It's scorching outside! With temperatures hitting the triple digits by this weekend, we are all looking for ways to keep cool. But dog owners need to remember summer heat doesn't just affect humans. Dogs, like people, can suffer from heat stroke and dehydration when they over-exercise in hot weather. Martha Garvey, noted pet weight loss expert and author of MY FAT DOG: TEN SIMPLE STEPS TO HELP YOUR PET LOSE WEIGHT FOR A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE (Hatherleigh Press, $11.95) offers the following advice to help dog owners keep their faithful furry friends fit and cool during the dog days of summer:
SNOUTS: Owners of short-snouted dogs must be especially careful during the heat of summer. Dogs use their snouts as a kind of cooling unit, exchanging hot air for cool. Flat-faced dogs such as pugs, Pekinese, boxers, and bulldogs are prone to overheat quickly because they lack a powerful andquot;air conditioner.andquot; CARS:When traveling in a car with your dog, make sure he's in a well-ventilated carrier. Never, ever, leave him alone in a car with the windows rolled up.
WATER: Water is your dog's best friend, especially in the summer. During walks, carry a water bottle, or foldable water bowl if you know you'll be near a water fountain. Water can be your dog's best friend for summer exercise too. If you have access to a pool or a body of water, make some of your dog's exercise aquatic. Swimming is easy on a dog's joints, and very good for weight reduction. Or look for a dogs-only pool: more and more swimming pools for dogs are opening up across the country, such as andquot;Dog-Gone Smartandquot; in Norwalk, Connecticut, and andquot;The Dog Runandquot; in New York City.
EXERCISE: If you decide to begin an exercise program for your dog in the summer, keep your goals small, and remember, your dog can't tell you when he's overheating. Don't push your couch potato dog from a 5-minute walk to running a 5K in one day. Start by adding an extra block to your walk, preferably during the coolest part of the day. And always carry water.
HEAT STROKE: Watch for signs of heat stroke and dehydration in your dog. Signs of heat stroke include glassy eyes, heavy panting, and difficulty breathing. Dehydration signs include dry mouth and skin that doesn't snap back when you pull it.
OVERHEATED: If you suspect your dog has overheated, move him out of the heat, preferably to an air-conditioned building. Spray the dog with cool water, or briefly immerse him in a tub of water for no more than 2 minutes. This should be sufficient for milder cases. If your dog doesn't respond, take him to the vet IMMEDIATELY.