Heat waves have been rippling across the country en masse this
summer. My brother, who lives not far from the Canadian border in
Vermont, was telling me last week that daytime temperatures were peaking
at a scorching 95 degrees. It was actually hotter there than where I
live in northern Arizona!
Living here for many years with a dog, I learned a lot about avoiding
the often extreme heat in the southwest. My dog absolutely loved riding
in the car with me and I loved looking in the rearview mirror to see her
in the backseat, but if I had to go out on a hot day for more than a
very quick errand, she stayed inside, at home, where it was a
comfortable 75 degrees. It was hard seeing the obvious disappointment on
her face when I left without her, but I couldn't face the possibility
of hurting her either.
Even during the cooler times of the year, I made a point of trying to
find a shady spot to park when my dog was in the car so she would be
comfortable. I always carried water and a bowl for her if she was
panting and possibly thirsty. If we went for an extended hike, I put a
wet bandana in a plastic bag in my pack to put around her neck to keep
If you live in a city area where grass is not plentiful, be careful
about walking your dog on blacktop during the day - their paws and pads
will be coming into direct contact with that hot surface. The same is
also true for sandy surfaces as well - sand absorbs a lot of heat! There
are many kinds of doggie footwear you can buy to prevent injury in
extreme cold or heat - look online or in a pet catalogue. Eventually,
most dogs' pads will toughen up much like my feet did as I went barefoot
during the summer, but better to err on the side of caution initially.
If your dog spends time outside in your back yard, make sure he or she
has plenty of water (in a bowl or bucket that won't tip over if you're
gone), and a shady area. Even with these in place, however, it's best
not to leave any dog outside in extreme heat for more than 2 or 3 hours.
I have seen outdoor dogs with raw, and even bloody noses and muzzles
from overexposure to the sun; many dogs can get sunburned and
dehydrated, especially those with short coats.
Spending time with your dog is wonderful in the summer but use caution
and common sense - they can become overheated and uncomfortable just
like us. Bring them outside and with you as much as possible, but ask
yourself what you might need to bring with you or do differently to make
sure they stay cool and comfortable.