As the summer heat continues to beat down, it is important to ensure the well being of your Service Dog. Just like humans, Service Dogs are susceptible to dehydration and heat stroke. As your Service Dogs human partner it is your responsibility to help prevent them against these risks.
Here are 5 tips to help keep your Service Dog cool during this hot season:
- Try to alternate between areas that are air-conditioned and those which are not.
If you have to spend a lot of time outdoors on a hot day, try your best to alternate between areas that are air-conditioned and those which are not. For example if you are attending an outdoor summer festival, see if there is an air-conditioned restaurant nearby to have lunch so that your Service Dog has time to cool down. If there are no air-conditioned locations close by, try to spend as much time in the shade as possible. If your house does not have air conditioning make sure that you have a fan positioned near where your Service Dog sleeps.
- Ensure that you always have water available for your Service Dog.
Professionals recommend that dogs have a half to 1 ounce of water per pound daily. Puppies in training require a little bit more and require at least a 1/2 cup every two hours. Make sure that your Service Dog gets enough water by carrying a travel bowl or water bottle around. If you happen to forget it, I find that often buildings or locations with food courts or restaurants are happy to give you a cup of water if you explain that it is for your Service Dog.
- Attempt to only go out in the early morning or late evening if possible.
Although this might not always be possible, try to run your errands and complete other outings in the early morning or late evening if possible. It is cooler at this time and better for your Service Dog. These two times in the day are also best if you want to take your dog out for a walk or to the park off-duty. If you have to go outside for long periods of time prepare a frozen bandana ahead of time by wetting and freezing it. Putting this around your Service Dogs neck will help keep their core temperature down.
- Be aware of hot pavement!
Concrete, asphalt and sand often become extremely hot in the summer and this can harm the pads of your Service Dogs feet. To avoid this try to walk on grassy or in shady areas as much as possible, especially during the core heat of the day. Dog boots may also be a good option to protect their pads (speak with your local pet store to find out which ones are best). Putting paw balm or ointment on after a long day outside, or when your dogs feet become burned, is also a great strategy as well.
- Don’t shave your Service Dog!
As tempting as it may be, don’t shave your Service Dog right down to their skin. Dogs need coats at least one inch long to protect them from the sun. Also keeping your dog brushed and well groomed will also help. A tangled coat makes it difficult for your Service Dogs body to regulate its temperature and cool down.
With these tips in mind, your Service Dog and yourself should be well on your way to enjoying the remainder of the summer. If you do suspect that your dog may have dehydration, heat stroke or other difficulties from the heat, take them to the closest veterinarian as soon as possible. Hope you have fun in the sun!