Is the Sun Dangerous to Your Dog?

Is the Sun Dangerous to Your Dog?

Look for signs of heat stroke and exhaustion on warm days.Look for signs of heat stroke and exhaustion on warm days.
Look for signs of heat stroke and exhaustion on warm days.Look for signs of heat stroke and exhaustion on warm days.

Just like humans, pets can overdo it in the sun. A French-fried pooch can peel, scab over and experience pain. Extreme cases can even lead to skin cancer.

Keep Your Dog From Burning

According to Novartis Animal Health, there are several things you can do to prevent disaster:

  • Pay attention to your pet’s exposed areas, such as around his lips, ears and nose. Apply sunblock to the tips of your pet’s ears and the top of the nose.
  • Protect your fair-haired pet. Just like people with pale white skin, dogs and cats with lighter-colored fur are at greater risk for getting sunburned.
  • Keep your pet in the shade during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Get your pet to a veterinarian if he starts looking like a tomato.

Don’t Overdo It In The Heat

  • Heat exhaustion can kill your pet. Never leave a pet alone in a car, even with the windows down. A sunny day can turn a metal car into an oven fairly quickly. Your car can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit in minutes, even if the weather is reasonable on the outside.
  • Even if you park in shade, don’t assume it will stay that way. Remember the earth rotates, so what was shady an hour ago is now sun-beaten.
  • Bring plenty of water, at least a gallon each for both you and your pet. Don’t forget the water dish.
  • Don’t force your animal to run around after a meal in hot, humid weather. Stick to early morning or evening workout sessions.
  • Don’t tie your dog up in the sun or make him stand on the street in hot weather. Keep mid-day walks to a minimum. Dogs perspire through their foot pads, so the longer he is on the hot pavement, the less able he is to cool down. And remember, he’s much closer to the hot asphalt than you are.
  • Don’t take your pet to the beach unless you can find a cool spot for him. Make sure to rinse any saltwater off too. Again, the hot sand affects his ability to cool down to a greater extent than you.
  • Make sure your pet has a place to hang out when outside. A good doghouse works nice but it’s best to bring a dog, or any other animal, into the house and out of the sun.
  • Always give your pet clean, fresh water. Don’t forget to check the dish to make sure it’s not empty. When replacing water, use cool water.
  • Keep old and overweight animals out of the heat. Snub-nosed dogs, especially bulldogs and Pekingese, and those with heart or lung disease, should be kept indoors in air-conditioning as much as possible.

When It Gets Really Bad

According to Debra Primovic, DVM, of the Animal Emergency Clinic in St. Louis, “Heat stroke (hyperthermia – as opposed to hypothermia, which is from being too cold) is a condition arising from extremely high body temperature (rectal temperature of 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit), which leads to nervous system abnormalities (such as lethargy, weakness, collapse, seizure or coma).” Don’t let this happen to your pet.

Watch For These Signs

  • Noisy breathing that may indicate upper airway obstruction
  • Excessive panting
  • Bright red mucous membranes (e.g. gums, conjunctiva of the eyes)
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • High body temperature

If You See These Signs

  • Place a cool, wet towel over your pet or put your pet in a cool water bath. Do not use ice because it may hurt his skin.
  • Check your pet’s temperature rectally. Normal body temperature in dogs and cats is higher than in humans (100.5 to 102.5 F as compared to 98.6 F).
  • If your pet’s temperature is over 105 F, call your veterinarian and get him out of the heat ASAP.
  • Bring your pet to a veterinarian or emergency clinic as soon as possible.
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