Summer with Spot

Warmer weather usually means more time spent outside with friends and family, including our treasured pets.  Walks get longer, balls are thrown more often, and squirrel-chasing is officially in season.  But as Ohio’s temperatures creep near 90 degrees and higher, and the humidity in the Ohio River Valley gets denser we have a family member with a fur coat that may need some help cooling off.

Most of us realize the importance of hydration in the summer… and without a doubt appreciate the AC available to us in most public buildings and homes.  But our pets need a way to stay cool as well.

If your pet must be outside during the day, provide shade and a cool, comfortable resting area.  Either a raised cot with airflow underneath or a baby pool filled with either water or a loamy, sandy soil mix can help lower Spot’s body temperature after a race around the yard.

Provide your pet with fresh, cool water throughout the day.  Hot water that has been sitting in the sun is not an attractive option for most dogs but does appeal to mosquitos.  Change the water often and empty the bowl every evening.

Be sure to check with a veterinarian if you notice a decrease in energy, eating, urination or bowel movements during the summer months.  All of these could be signs of dehydration.

If your dog is able to be in air conditioning during the day, remember that this lowers their body’s ability to adjust to heat and humidity when out for a play day, festival or hike this summer.  Bring water, a collapsible bowl and even an umbrella to give Spot a place to cool off.

Never, ever leave Spot in a car, RV or tent.  If it is above 60 degrees and sunny outside, it will reach temperatures over 90 degrees in unventilated spaces very quickly.  If it is over 80 degrees, it could be over for Spot within minutes.  Even dog crates left in the sun will become unbearable very quickly.

Sunscreen for Spot?  Absolutely!  Certain breeds with short fur and pink skin can burn from their tender noses to their waggy tails and develop skin cancer.  Apply to a small patch and watch for an allergic reaction.  If the sunscreen is safe, apply carefully and avoid spraying near the face.

For breeds with short faces (Pugs, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs) limit their exposure to extreme heat and humidity to under 20 minutes.  Their cute little faces make it harder to move cooling air around their mouth (remember, dogs can’t sweat to regulate body temperature, they must pant); thus, they are more prone to heat stress.

And, if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, your dog’s feet will also burn.  Walk on light-colored pavement or in the grass.

Our pets love summer just as much as we do… it usually means more time with their favorite person: YOU!

For Travel Tips, see  If you can’t take your pet with you, West Chester Veterinary Clinic has a top-rated boarding facility.