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Summer is the season to be outdoors and our dogs love it as much as we do. If your dogs are at all like ours, they are either outdoors or dreaming about it.

There are a few things that you should be aware of when you and your dog are playing outdoors this summer. First of all, it is important to know that dogs don't cool themselves as efficiently as we do. They cool themselves mostly by exhaling hot air and inhaling the cooler surrounding air. Obviously, a problem can develop if the surrounding air is not much cooler than the air they exhale. If this is the case be aware that your dog may be heading for heat stroke.

Heat stroke is a very serious condition; however it can be easily avoided by taking a few simple steps. If your dog is showing signs of overheating, such as, excessive panting and a drooping tongue, it is time to:

  • Get your dog out of the sun and into a shady area or, if possible, an air conditioned space.
  • Make sure there is plenty of cool water for your dog to drink.
  • Keep your dog still while he/she cools off.
  • Stroke your dog's body with a towel soaked in cool (not cold) water. Your dog will be cooled quickly as the water evaporates. This provides the same cooling action as perspiration does for our bodies.

Another consideration that is often overlooked is the risk of burning the pads on your dog's feet. The hot summer sun can heat paved surfaces, such as streets parking lots and concrete patios, to such a degree that the sensitive pads on your dog's feet may blister.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't remind everyone of the danger of leaving your dog in a vehicle unattended during the summer months. The temperature inside the vehicle can increase rapidly as the sun radiates into the vehicle heating the interior surfaces. The extreme temperatures can be deadly in just a matter of a few minutes. A widow left open in the vehicle will provide little if any relief from the deadly temperatures.

Just being aware of these important summer time tips will make your dog's outdoor experiences safer and may even save his/her life.