Lizzi & Rocco's Natural Pet Market

Lick Summer Heat Away!

Missouri—in the summer, it’s misery! The temperatures soar, the sun is HOT, and the humidity just makes us feel like we’re breathing soup. But we’re not going to let that stop us from having outside fun with our dogs—we’re just going to make sure our furry best friends stay safe and comfortable!

A dog enjoying a splash in a stream to cool off from summer heat.

Water Safety in the Heat

With the heat bearing down on us, it’s a great time to dive into cool water! Whether you’re splashing in a pool, stream, or lake, it’s necessary to keep water safety in mind. Not every dog can swim, so make sure you know your dog’s abilities before you let them try to doggy paddle. One good way to test this skill is by starting in a kiddie pool or shallow pond, with you right there to be able to lift them out if they’re not able to swim. 
We also suggest life jackets, which are a great safety measure for all types of dogs, but especially non-swimmers or large dogs. The life jacket’s buoyancy and easily accessible handles mean that you’ll have an easier time lifting a large dog if it gets tuckered out or any dog in need of saving. Of course, that means you’ll need to be close by—though you should ALWAYS supervise your pet while they swim.

Traveling

Another critical factor to consider is traveling, whether to the lake or to visit family. It’s essential to make sure that your pet will be OK with the hectic stress of traveling and safe in case they get lost far from home. Make sure they have a well-fitting collar and updated tag information; if they have a microchip, make sure that info is up to date as well. It only takes a phone call to the chip manufacturer to make sure the listed home address is good to go!
Not every animal is ready for the hectic pace of travel, including long car or plane rides and having their dog bed in a different place every night. Test them out with a shorter overnight trip, and be prepared with calming treats to help them acclimate to their new digs. During this test, you can also make sure you have the correct type of car restraint for your pet. For a deep dive into vacationing with your dog, check out this blog we wrote last year. For tips specifically on car safety, click here!

L.I.C.K is a handy acronym for helping your pet survive in the heat!

L.I.C.K.

Regarding handling the summer heat, we came up with a handy acronym to help you remember our tips and tricks for staying cool on long, sweltering days and keeping your pets (and you!) safe from the extreme summer heatwaves the Midwest is so capable of. So when you’re out in the heat for those long days, don’t forget to L.I.C.K.!

Limit walks and outside play to cooler parts of the day!

It’s pretty simple—your dog is more likely to get heatstroke if you have them out and running around during the hottest time of the day, so limit that to the cooler parts of the day. During the dog days of summer, it can be worth it to wake up early to sneak in a nice long walk during sunrise and wind down for the night after dusk. If you have to go out in the middle of the day, do your best to keep it to a minimum amount of activity—noon on a sunny 100-degree day isn’t the time to play a long game of fetch! We’d also recommend a cooling bandana, which can keep their neck cool and help lower their body temperature.

Do your best to keep activity on the grass if possible. Concrete and asphalt absorb the heat of the sun all day, which means they can be way too hot for a puppy’s paw pads (even if the sun isn’t currently out). The potential for burns is terrible enough, but dogs can only sweat through their paw pads; if they’re on hot pavement instead of grass, it greatly affects their ability to cool off! 

If you have to walk on those hotter surfaces, test the temperature with your hand first. If you can comfortably keep your hand on the asphalt for 15 seconds, your dog will be safe. If not, keep them off, or invest in dog boots—they’re not just winter wear!

Ice cubes, frozen treats, and LOTS of water are essential for hydration!

Being well-hydrated is one of the best ways to avoid heat stroke and give your dog the best ability to handle the heat. 

While having plenty of water is always a great start, the more the merrier when it comes to hydration! Make sure you have fresh water within easy reach—giving your dog as much liquid as possible—and come equipped with frozen treats that will help cool their internal temperature. As a tip, you can even let the treats do double duty by stuffing them in stuffable toys to give valuable enrichment—let our recipes inspire you!
Cats are more likely to be dehydrated, so having frozen and wet treats available is a great way to ensure their peak health! Just like dogs, cats benefit significantly from the enrichment provided by lick mats, frozen treats, and a change in routine. To check out the recipes Chef Cobalt Cat whipped up (and taste-tested), we put together a handy blog!

A frozen treat being prepared to help a pet beat the heat!

Check frequently for signs of overheating!

Heatstroke is a huge risk in summer, and it’s crucial to be on the lookout for the signs and know what to do if your dog does get heatstroke. 

It’s also important to be aware that not all breeds can handle heat the same way. Breeds with short muzzles and a restricted airway, such as pugs, boxers, and bulldogs, are at increased risk because it’s harder for them to pant! Panting is the primary way dogs handle the heat since they can’t sweat through their skin like humans, so if anything is restricting that ability, such as a short snout or a muzzle, it’s even more important to keep an eye out for those tell-tale signs.


If your dog shows any of the symptoms of heatstroke, apply a cool washcloth or pour cool water (not cold!) over them, concentrating on their armpits, belly, and feet. Then, make sure they’re in the shade or breeze at least (if possible, get them into air conditioning!) 

Most importantly, call a vet and take your dog in ASAP. A veterinarian’s care is the best way to ensure your pet recovers safely from heatstroke. Even if your dog seems to be recovering fine at home, there could be shock, kidney concerns, and dehydration to be concerned about, so visiting the vet is important!

Here are the signs to look out for:
-Extreme drooling
-Excessive panting
-Elevated heart rate
-Abnormally colored or bruised gums
-Dry or sticky gums
-Lethargic
-Diarrhea or loose stool
If your dog is experiencing seizures, has lost consciousness, or is vomiting, start cooling them off and get to the emergency vet immediately. These symptoms manifest when your dog is seriously ill from the heat.

Cats have the same major symptoms as dogs, but a great early tell is if they’re grooming more than usual. This behavior indicates that they’re attempting to cool down by dissipating heat through grooming while also spreading oils in their coats to enhance the cooling process. If you’re noticing it much more than usual, give them a helping hand by grooming them more frequently and making sure they have access to cool spots to rest—out of the sun and maybe even on a cooling pad.

Know your pet!

We know, it seems so basic—but at the end of the day, YOU’RE the #1 expert on your pets! You know what’s normal and what’s not, which means you’re the best person to speak up if something seems off. That also means being aware of your dog’s unique summer risks! 

We discussed that pups with short, flat faces have trouble panting, but maybe your dog has a thin coat and is more susceptible to sunburn or is naturally built for the winter seasons and needs more frequent grooming during the hotter months. Taking a moment to evaluate what needs your dog might have means you can have all the doggy sunscreen and brushes on hand and manage the risks effectively. 
If you’re not quite sure what you might need, consider asking us! Our staff has experience with all types of dogs and cats, and we’d be happy to help you find the right ways to manage Missouri’s weather together.

We’d also love to see photos and videos of our furry friends enjoying the best summer has to offer, so don’t forget to tag us on Instagram and Facebook—and don’t forget to L.I.C.K. the summer heat away!

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