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When you’re cold, you put on a sweater or turn up the thermostat. When you’re hot, you drink ice water and seek out shade. And if you need help, you ask for it! Unfortunately, dogs aren’t always as vocal with their needs, and the consequences of temperature extremes can be fatal. How does an attentive owner make sure their pet stays safe, happy, and comfortable on the hottest summer days and coldest winter nights? Here are some tips from Rover.com.
Avoiding Heat Stroke
There are a few easy rules to follow to make sure your dog’s internal body temperature doesn’t rise too high. This is important because there’s an increased risk of heatstroke—which can be deadly—in hot, dry environments.
Take immediate action if you suspect that your dog is overheated, either because of symptoms or a thermometer that reads above the standard 102° F. Look for heavy panting, a racing heartbeat, extreme thirst, lethargy, lightheadedness, or erratic behavior. Your pet may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, or seizures. Keep your pet cool and hydrated, and take them to a veterinarian or animal hospital immediately. Regular check-ups will also help you know if your pet has any health conditions that could be exacerbated by heat.
On hot days, monitor your pet’s time outdoors. Make sure they stay in the shade, don’t over-exercise, and drink water at least once an hour. Dogs don’t always know their own limits and might not stop playing or seek water or shade until they’re already in distress, so it’s your job to make sure they’re cool and comfortable. You can even put a kiddie play pool outside and add ice cubes periodically for a backyard oasis.
Never leave your pet alone in the car, even with cracked windows. If you’re busy with work or errands, hire a pet-sitter from Rover.com to look after your pet during playtime. Communicate clearly with your dog’s caretaker, and be sure they don’t spend too much time in direct sunlight.
Hypothermia, cracked and bleeding paws, and dehydration can all wreak havoc on your pet’s health in winter months. Whether you’re indoors or out, take appropriate precautions to minimize these risks. Observe your pup closely. Do you notice uncontrollable shaking? Is their nose dry? Do their paws exhibit duress? Wrap your dog in a warm, dry blanket and take them to the vet if you have reason to be concerned.
Your vet can also let you know whether your dog is capable of long winter hikes or should stick to short walks on cold days. Older dogs lose the muscle and fat that once kept them warm, and pets who are small or have thin coats may need to be bundled up in sweaters. Winter booties can be beneficial for any type of dog, but if you forego them, you’ll need to pay extra attention to your pet’s paws. Wipe off snow and street residue, look between the toes for ice accumulation, and monitor for cold-weather damage.
It’s vital to keep your dog dry, whether indoors or out. Keep a towel by the door to wipe your pet down when they come in. Otherwise, they might end up with a damp doggy bed that could cause hypothermia in the night. Don’t take your dog outside unless they’re completely dry, either—avoid frozen fur and paws!
If your pet can’t get warm, give them a warm bath, but don’t shift their body temperature too suddenly. Start with cool water, and gradually warm it up. Monitor their temperature and get them completely dry post-bath. Use a blow-dryer if you need to, and keep your dog’s bed dry and cozy with fresh towels. Regular hydration is also essential, and you can offer your pet warm soup or broth as an extra treat.
Now, you’ll both stay cozy, no matter the weather. You and your pet will be able to enjoy every season, worry-free!
Written by Nat Smith, Rover.com community member. Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.