7 essential tips for dog owners dealing with the summer heat

Your dog loves the outdoors, but is it safe to let them run free in the heat?

August 7, 2018, 4:28 AM

Your pooch loves the outdoors. They love to run free, meet other dogs and basically just be a happy puppy!

But as a dog owner, there are very serious things to consider as the temperature and humidity both continue to rise in the "dog" days of August.

Sure, you want to see your dog smile and wag his or her tail, but there are times where it's best to cut your time outside short.

"GMA" spoke to Dr. Mark Verdino, chief of the veterinary staff at North Shore Animal League America, to compile essential safety tips when it comes to you and your beloved furball this summer.

1 - Keep a close eye on excessive panting.

It's certainly cute when they have their little tongues hanging out, but dogs cannot sweat and panting is actually how they cool themselves down.

"If the humidity is very high, the evaporation from the tongue is diminished and they cannot cool themselves," Verdino said.

So, if your dog can't stop panting or looks to be uncomfortable, it's best to get back inside.

2 - Dogs with dark coats heat up faster.

It's common sense, but the darker your pup, the hotter it's going to get.

"The most common dogs that are going to get heat stroke, are the larger dogs with black coats, brown coats, because they do absorb the rays of the sun," he said. "I have a tan dog and a black dog, and the black dog can't be in the sun at all! He will get very, very hot, very, very quickly."

3 - Water and shade are a dog's best friend.

If you do have your pup out with you in the heat, make sure there is a place with shade for them to relax.

Also, they absolutely need to drink more water, just like you do, so they don't get dehydrated.

"Make sure you have a big bowl, filled with water and ice, so they can cool themselves down," Verdino.

Also have an exit strategy, in case you see signs of overheating like panting, disorientation or difficulty moving. Don't get stuck far away from home or transit when your dog starts to overheat.

4 - Stating the obvious here, but NEVER leave your dog in a car!

You've seen the viral videos online of good Samaritans breaking car windows to help dogs stuck inside while their owners are running errands.

"People go, 'Oh, I'm just running to pick up my dry cleaning.'" Verdino said. "Even if that's a minute, that's a minute too long."

5 - Be aware of pavement and paws.

It can be a beautiful, 75-degree day, but if the sun is shining down on black pavement, that can severely burn your little buddy's paws.

Think about you walking across your driveway in bare feet, would you want that pain for your dog? (That's a rhetorical question!)

"Pavement can up to 130, 140 degrees, even if the temperature is only 80, 85 outside," he added.

Verdino says he's seen third-degree burns on dogs paws from hot pavements.

6 - Keep exercise with your pup to a minimum.

They certainly like to run and explore, but if it's really hot and humid out, you need to let them release their pent-up energy inside instead of outdoors.

"People let their dogs run around in parks and take them exercising in weather that's over 80 degrees, but that should be kept to a minimum," Verdino said.

7 - Any squishy-face dog, watch them closely too.

Bulldogs, pugs, those types often have breathing problems as it is, so watch them when they are outside in the heat.

They sure are cute, but Verdino says anything "that exacerbates their need to pant, could put them into distress."