Do you know what to do if your dog gets dehydrated, has a hot spot or gets fleas?
What about mosquitoes, heatstroke, and even changes to appetite? These are some of the many seasonal dangers that can leave you frustrated and worried …
… and make your dog feel awful.
Don’t let the summer heat get you (or your dog) down.
Today I’ll talk about how you can help your dog beat the heat and stay safe this summer. But first … let’s take a look at some myths about how to cool your dog down.
Myths About Keeping Your Dog Cool
Myth #1 Shave Your Dog To Keep Her Cool
Some people think that if they shave their dog it will help keep them cool. This is a myth – one that is dangerous for your dog. Your dog’s coat actually keeps her cool.
It also protects her from the sun. A shaved coat lets the sun through to the skin. This can lead to overheating, sunburn and even skin cancer.
Instead groom your dog with a long or double coat. This will keep the mats and tangles to a minimum and let the cool air in.
Myth #2 Dogs Regulate Their Temperature With Sweat
Your dog doesn’t sweat the way humans do to cool off.
Dogs only sweat from the paws which doesn’t do much to keep them cool. That’s why your dog will pant. It helps circulate air through their body.
But … if the air your dog pants is too hot, she won’t be able to cool down.
So you need to keep her hydrated and out of the sun.
Some dogs are at greater risk of dehydration. Darker coats absorb more heat than lighter coats. And overweight dogs are at higher risk for dehydration.
If your dog has overheated, she’ll pant heavier and drool more than usual. She may seem lethargic, with bloodshot eyes. She may even appear a little pale.
To test for dehydration, pinch up some of your dog’s skin … if it bounces right back, she’s fine. If it takes a little bit to go back to normal then there’s some dehydration.
Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, cool water.
You can also make your own electrolyte water. Give this to your dog to replace cell salts and minerals that are important for …
- Blood pH
- Nerve conduction
Dr Dee Blanco recommends you mix a pinch of good sea salt into some sparkling water. The sparkling water helps get the minerals into the cells.
Myth #3 Wet Down Your Dog To Cool Her Off
When you and your family get hot you might go for a dip or run through a sprinkler to stay cool.
And that makes sense … when water evaporates, it will draw out some of the heat.
This is why it may seem like a good idea to soak your dog down. But if you soak down some dogs, it can be counter-intuitive.
Your dog’s coat insulates her from both warm and cool weather. It also allows air to circulate close to her skin to cool her off.
If you have a heavy-coated dog, water can weigh down her coat. This makes it harder for air to circulate through the strands.
If your dog has a double coat, the water will evaporate from her topcoat. But the undercoat can stay wetter longer. This will trap the water close to her skin, and again make it harder for her to cool down.
For these dogs, you’ll want to wet down the underbelly, chest and paws. Or lay down a wet towel for them to stand or lie on when they need to cool off.
How To Keep Your Dog Cool
Before you set off for a long walk or let your dog run around the back yard, think about the temperature.
Here’s how to keep your dog cool:
- Walk early in the morning or later in the day when it’s cooler.
- Make sure there’s a shady area if she plays outside in the yard.
- Remember that her paws aren’t protected from the hot asphalt so choose grassy surfaces if you can. Touch the pavement. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paw pads.
- Keep your house cool. Leave windows open, or turn on the ceiling fans or A/C.
- Walk with water and let your dog drink as you go. Take frequent breaks to let her cool down. Make sure she has access to cool water when she’s in the yard.
- Cooling vests can lower temperatures between intermittent exercise periods. But they’re not recommended for the treatment of heat-related conditions.
When in doubt, check her out …
It’s easy to assume that because you’re comfortable your dog is too. Most dogs can’t handle the heat as well as humans.
So keep an eye out and cut your walk short if her tongue starts to really hang out. Or if the skin doesn’t bounce back right away when pinched.
Other Summer Safety Tips For Your Dog
1. Watch Out For Heatstroke
One of the main reasons you need to keep your dog cool is to avoid heatstroke.
Your dog’s normal temperature is between 100° and 103°F. A dog will start to experience heatstroke at 105°F … any higher and organ damage is a risk.
These are common signs of heatstroke …
- Heavy panting
- Dry or bright red gums
- Thicker drool than normal
- Loss of balance
If you notice these symptoms, move her to a cool place.
Wipe her down with a damp rag or drape a cool, damp towel over her body. Pay attention to her inner thighs and stomach where there are more large blood vessels. You’ll also want to cool down the pads of her feet.
Try to get her to slowly drink some cool (not cold) water. If she gulps down too much too fast, she may vomit, which won’t help the situation.
Once she’s cool, take her to see your holistic vet for an exam to ensure that there’s no internal damage.
RELATED: Helping Your Dog With Heatstroke …
2. Keep The Fleas Away
Fleas can be a problem all year, but they’re usually worse in the summer.
The problem with most flea treatments is that they’re full of pesticides that can harm your dog.
Ingredients like imidacloprid have been shown to damage the …
And adverse reactions from pyrethroid spot-ons include brain damage, heart attacks and seizures.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is the ideal natural flea killer.
It has tiny razor-sharp edges that dehydrate bugs from the inside out. The sharp edges also shred insects’ insides as well as their exoskeletons.
But be sure to get food grade DE. Pool grade can be toxic.
- Sprinkle it around your home, leave it for a day, then vacuum it up.
- Spread it outside in your yard wherever your dog spends most of her time.
- You can also sprinkle a small amount onto your pet’s skin, but be careful it doesn’t get in her eyes, nose or mouth.
Note: DE can irritate your lungs so make sure you (and your dog) don’t breath in the dust. After the dust has settled, DE is safe.
RELATED: Our TOP Home Remedies For Fleas …
3. Don’t Forget About Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are also an issue. Your dog doesn’t like mosquitoes any more than you do …
… but chemical-based bug spray isn’t the answer.
Instead, feed your dog garlic to make her less attractive to mosquitoes.
Yep, garlic. It’s safe when given in moderation:
- Give ¼ clove of garlic per 10 lbs of body weight.
- If your dog weighs less than 10 lbs, cut a ¼ clove of garlic in half and give ⅛ clove.
- If you have a giant breed, don’t give more than two cloves of garlic per day.
- Peel and chop the garlic about 15 minutes before you feed it to your dog.
- Add it to your dog’s food. Always use organic fresh whole clove garlic.
RELATED: Can Dogs Eat Garlic? …
You can also use neem oil. This is an extract from the tropical neem tree. It has insecticidal compounds that repel insects.
Put a drop of neem oil on different places on your dog …
- On top of her head
- Behind her ears
- On her shoulder blades
- Along her back and at the base of her tail
You can apply neem oil every day during mosquito season.
BONUS: Neem oil has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties and can also help with …
- Poison oak and ivy
4. Natural First Aid
Whether you take your dog for a walk through the woods together or a swim at a local lake, accidents happen. You should have a first aid kit on hand to treat wounds right away. This will help avoid infection and soothe scrapes or burns.
First, a couple of homeopathic remedies to have on hand:
- Arnica: a great first remedy for any injury or trauma.
- Ledum: great for insect bites and stings or puncture wounds
And some herbal remedies:
- Calendula – Antibacterial, anti-fungal. Helps speed up recovery and is a great source of vitamin E & A. To make a salve … add ¼ teaspoon of salt to one cup of purified water. Add 2040 drops of calendula tincture. Apply with a clean cotton ball two-four times a day.
- Yarrow – Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial. It helps builds new tissue and stops bleeding. Use it to treat bruises, sprains and strains, cuts, bites, burns and stings. Use it as a salve, poultice or tea.
- Witch hazel – Antioxidant and astringent. Helps clear out bacteria and can even help soothe bug bites.
5. Clear Up Hot Spots And Itchy Skin
Here are some tips to clear hot spots up …
- Hypericum and calendula diluted in water (Hypercal) is an antibacterial wash. It works well to clean and relieve hot spot pain. You can find it on Amazon or at your local health food store. If you can’t find HyperCal, mix equal parts of both.
- Hot spots are usually wet, so use black tea to them dry up. The tannins in black tea can also help stop the infection and help it heal. Steep some tea and let it cool. Use either the tea bag or a cotton ball and hold it to the hot spot for several minutes. If your dog doesn’t mind, you can hold it there longer.
- Use a natural salve to heal and relieve the pain and itch.
6. Food For Hot Weather
You may notice that your dog’s appetite decreases with the heat. If she doesn’t want to eat, don’t make her.
If she isn’t as active, feed to match her activity level. You can even choose to feed her once a day a few times a week if the weather is very warm.
You can also skip the warm fatty meats and warming foods to keep the meals lighter.
Here are some foods that have cooling energetics:
7. Keep Your Dog Clean
Let’s face it, dogs seem to get way dirtier in the summer. They swim in the lake, they dig in the dirt, they roll around in the grass …
… and then they come in and roll around on the carpet or lounge on the couch.
A bath not only helps get rid of that wet dog smell and clear out the dirt … it can also help with the build-up of bacteria on your dog’s skin that irritates her.
Rinse her with clean water or use very gentle shampoo is a good idea. But don’t overdo it. Keep in mind that over-bathing can disturb the balance of your dog’s natural skin bacteria.
And remember that not all dog shampoos are created equal …
Look for one that doesn’t contain chemicals that can strip the natural oils from your dog’s skin or coat.
Ingredients like aloe and lemongrass can clean and soothe at the same time. Or you can use liquid Castile soap which is very gentle.
Now that you know how to keep your dog cool, calm and collected all summer, go enjoy the weather! Keep her safe and happy all season long.