Summer is a great season to have fun with your dog, but as with humans, it's important to keep some safety and comfort tips in mind when planning your pal's day.

Mark Freeman, a veterinarian and clinical assistant professor of community practice at Virginia Tech, offers this expert advice:

High temperatures

  • Take your pup for walks in the coolest hours of the day. Make sure to have shaded access to water when outside and available water when returning indoors. 
  • Never leave an animal — or person! — in a hot car. Period. Even a few minutes can be deadly.
  • Just like you, dogs have more trouble sweating — and thus get hotter — when it's humid.  “One of the biggest things that most owners don’t understand is that it’s not just heat; you have heat and humidity,” Freeman said. Pay close attention to smaller dogs with shorter snouts, which typically can't manage humidity as well because their heat escape mechanism through panting is less efficient.
  • Monitor for signs of heat exhaustion, which include: 

            — Suddenly lethargic or weak
            — Diarrhea and/or vomiting
            — Excessive panting
            — Change in gum color (from pink to dark red or purple)
            — Seizures or sudden collapse

If your dog has any of these symptoms, immediately move them under shade or indoors and offer cool water. Call your veterinarian; they may recommend further measures.

Storms and fireworks

As many as a third of all dogs suffer from noise anxiety connected to suddenness of the sound. 

“When they are in a situation where they are being bombarded with noises that are causing a tremendous amount of stress for them, they are looking for any source of security, and that includes a 'safe' hiding place,” said Freeman.

  • There are a number of different techniques that can be utilized for animals that have phobias associated with loud noises. "A general rule is to approach any phobia through behavior modification therapy, if that’s an option; desensitizing animals to the loud noises so they pretty much ignore them.”
  • Medications, such as sedatives, can be effective in preventing dogs from experiencing anxiety during stressful events such as fireworks and lengthy storms with lightning and thunder. Sileo is a sedative available in an oral gel that is absorbed through the gum tissue, and produces an effect within 30-60 minutes. "It has been very effective for reducing anxiety in dogs with noise phobias."

About Freeman

Mark Freeman is a veterinarian and assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. His research interests include animal behavior and molecular biology.