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Protect Your Dog from the Tucson Heat

Woman giving her dog a drink from the hose
Hydration is a key way dogs cope with heat.

It's summer in Arizona. While you may be excited about mountain camping and 4th of July parties by the pool, it's also important to take precautions to keep yourself--and your dog--safe in triple digit temps. Here are 5 ways to protect your dog from heat stress:

1. Never leave your dog in the car

In our high summer temps, dogs can die or suffer irreversible organ damage within minutes. Cracking windows won't protect them. Leaving your car running is also unsafe, since dogs may accidentally knock the gear stick. A possible exception: cars equipped with Tesla's dog mode. Be aware that there are some recent reports of dog mode software malfunctioning, according to Road and Track. We can't analyze the risk here since we're animal experts, not car experts.

Your best bet? Leave pets at home in the AC on very hot days. If your dog struggles with being alone, read our tips on coping with separation anxiety.

2. Limit exposure to searing temps

Avoid midday highs by going outside early in the morning or in the evening. If you must go for walks or play in the heat, reduce the time and intensity. This is especially important for vulnerable dogs, including puppies, seniors, and overweight dogs. Dogs with short muzzles like Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, and Boston Terriers have a harder time breathing in the heat.

We recommend that you do not leave your dog outdoors alone in the heat. If you must do so for short periods, make sure they always have access to shade and fresh water.

3. Keep your dog cool and well-hydrated

Dogs only have sweat glands on their feet, so fans do not work to cool them down. Instead, carry extra water with you. There is also special apparel to keep your dog cool, like the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Dog Vest from REI or a cooling mat from Amazon.

Do you like cool treats during the summer? Well, so does your dog! The Kind Pet blog has healthy DIY recipes and product recommendations. Getting wet in a pool, mister, hose, or swimming hole is another great way to stay cool, but supervise your dog around pools, since drowning does pose a risk.

4. Protect your dog's feet and skin

Just like you, your dog can get burned. If a surface is too hot to touch with your hand, it's too hot for your dog's feet. Walk in the grass or dirt rather than pavement, or invest in booties (although even these may not be sufficient in the hottest temps). Whole Dog Journal rates booties here.

Certain breeds, like Greyhounds, Collies, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, Whippets, American Hairless Terriers, and Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless) are especially prone to sunburn. Read more about sunscreen for dogs from the American Kennel Club.

5. Know the signs of heat stroke and treat it immediately

According to the Arizona Humane Society, signs of heat stroke in dogs can include:

  • Unusually red gums and tongue

  • Loud and rapid panting

  • Excessive drooling or lack of drool

  • Rapid pulse

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Excessive thirst

  • Glazed eyes

  • Elevated temperature

  • Weakness and lethargy

In extreme cases, dogs may suffer from collapse, seizures, and unconsciousness. Heat stroke demands immediate veterinary care. In the meantime, move your pet to a cool place and cover them with cool, wet cloths.

Never dunk your dog in cold water, since this can cause shock and interfere with vasodilation (one of the ways dogs cool themselves down).

A woman helps a dog out of a pool
Many dogs love swimming, but don't throw them into cold water. It's also important to supervise them.

Enjoy #HotGirlSummer, but make sure your pooch doesn't suffer through #HotDogSummer. If you're both feeling cooped up and need a shared activity in a safe environment, consider investing in one of our training and obedience packages. Have fun improving your communication skills. Work out any behavioral triggers so you're ready to get outside and take full advantage of Pima County's balmy weather when fall arrives.


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