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May 2022 kicked off summer in Texas with a blistering bang. The sweltering heat knocked six power plants offline over a month before the official first day of summer. Keeping the a/c running across the state may be well beyond your control but you can keep your pets safe in the Texas heat with this summer safety knowledge.

Air temperature vs. asphalt temperature

Well before temperatures are bumping 100°, asphalt can become too hot for paws. In a 1970 study on thermal contact burns it was found that, in the absence of any wind and in direct sunlight, when the air temperature is 77° asphalt surfaces can reach 125°. At 86° it can reach 135° and at 87° the asphalt temperature can rise to 143°.

Be aware that when the pavement hits 125° pads can burn in 60 seconds. Check the pavement by holding the back of your hand on it for at least five seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.

More heat and sun safety for dogs

Care should be taken with all dogs when it comes to the summer heat and sun but be aware that brachycephalic (flat muzzle) dogs, long hair, young pups, and seniors, in particular, tend to overheat quickly. Dogs sweat through the pads of their feet and cool themselves down by panting which requires a lot of work on their part. It’s essential to ensure they stay cool all day as they can suffer a fatal heat stroke within minutes. Keep these tips in mind for keeping cool:

  • Do not leave animals unattended in a hot car. Have someone stay with the animal if you need to stop or bring them in with you (if allowed). Plan your outing around your dog; drop them off at home if you have errands to complete.
  • Do not forget to consider the humidity. Many of us have chuckled at the phrase “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” but humidity can be no laughing matter. The heat index is what the temperature feels like to the body when the air temperature is combined with relative humidity. In short, we feel warmer in humid conditions—and so does your pup.
  • Provide access to fresh, cool water all day, allow them to chew on ice chips, and keep track of how much water they’re intaking during the day. You can also boost electrolytes by providing a water enhancer (store bought or make homemade broth).

How to recognize and treat heat stroke in dogs

Signs of heat stroke include drooling, heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, and unsteadiness. In Texas, an 80° day can feel downright cool and pleasant but the temperature in cars can quickly increase—in just 10 minutes a car interior can reach 100° and quickly lead to heat stroke or hyperthermia. Along with being left in a hot car, other common causes of heat stroke in dogs include too much exercise during hot temperatures and being left outside without access to shade or water on a hot day. If you believe a dog has suffered heatstroke, for the best chance of survival a safe and gradual lowering of their body temperature is critical. Tips on what to do:

  • Move the dog to a cool and shaded area.
  • Pour cool (not cold to avoid shock) water over, or apply cool wet cloths to, the head, stomach, armpits, and feet. If using cool cloths, be sure to continually replace before they start retaining heat.
  • Ensure a continuous flow of air (e.g., the breeze of a fan) across the dog to help increase evaporative heat loss.
  • Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
  • Once the dog is cool get them to a veterinary hospital quickly.

Indoor fun for dogs

There are simple and fun indoor training ideas to help keep furry family members entertained, minds and bodies active, while the four-leggeds and the two-leggeds stay cool. Check out our post originally written for cold or rainy days but the principles also apply for hot days when we should all be inside: Read it here. Also, for our guests at Barkaritaville Pet Resort, we have plenty of indoor play space plus doggie pools and shaded areas outdoors when it’s safe to be in the sun.

Stay summer heat safe, Texas!

Barkaritaville Pet Resort in San Antonio and Corpus Christi offers a full range of services, including luxury pet lodging, doggie daycare, grooming, and more, along with a caring team of professionals to meet the needs of your furry family member. Contact us to learn more about our pet resorts.

Image, above, by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay