Summer pup 101: Everything you need to know about keeping your dog cool and healthy this season

A guide to safe summer fun for your canine companion.

A guide to safe summer fun for your canine companion

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

With heatwave after heatwave descending upon Canada this summer — coast to coast and even to the North — keeping cool is at the top of our priority list. But when the heat peaks, the great outdoors can get a little dangerous not just for us, but for our four-legged friends, too. Naturally, we want our canine companions to come along for all the adventures and look their most stylish (hi Diggy!), but it can be hard to determine what's safe for pups amidst the dog days of summer. Summer safety 101 extends far beyond DON'T LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A HOT CAR, so for some expert tips to we contacted veterinarian Dr. Penny Richards of Central Nova Animal Hospital in Truro, Nova Scotia. Here's what she had to say about helping your doggos have the best, and healthiest, summer ever. 

How much water should dogs be consuming in the heat?

It varies with activity and weather, but on average dogs need about 1 cup of water per 10 lbs of weight, per day.

Are there any cool snacks we can feed them to help him beat the heat?

Ice cubes are a great treat. You can also freeze low-sodium chicken or beef broth in ice cube trays. Frozen veggies like carrots and green beans (are good too).

When we go for ice cream, can our dogs have a scoop, too?

That depends on if they are lactose intolerant — some pets are unable to tolerate dairy products and will experience vomiting and diarrhea, but others are fine with a bit of ice cream and yogurt.

Is it safe for dogs to swim in a chlorinated pool?

Yes, unless they get a rash from it. It is important to rinse both chlorine and salt water from dogs after swimming. The hair sure can clog up filters though...

Will salt water hurt their stomachs?

Yes. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea and if your dog quickly ingests a lot of it, it will cause saltwater poisoning

Can we take them jogging in the summer? Do you have any tips for ideal temps, or times during the day?

Use common sense — if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog. Watch the temperature of asphalt and go early in the day and late in the evening and make sure you both have water with you. Humidity is worse than temperature for dogs and they need to get rid of excess heat by panting. But keep in mind that some dogs are not athletes — bulldogs can hardly walk in the heat, let alone jog, ever.

Is it safe to shave dogs' hair quite short for the summer?

Yes, but it must be done early in May so that he will grow a bit of their coat back (before the heat of summer) and not burn.

Dogs can get a sunburn, too?

If their coats are light and white, yes. And dogs are especially susceptible to burns on their nose and ears. For more info, I recommend this article from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

What are the signs that a dog is overheating and how can we cool them down?

Watch out for excessive panting, drooling, weakness and trouble rising. Give them room temperature water to drink and wet their body with tepid water to help bring down your dog's body temperature slowly.

There are so many fireworks and thunderstorms this season! Any tips for keeping them calm?

Stay calm, yourself. Play music or turn on the TV to provide a counterpoint to the noise outside, and use a thundershirt to swaddle them, which will help control panting. If it worsens, see your vet.

Ticks seem to be everywhere these days, but dogs loves to play in the grass. What can we look for to help spot them and how do we safely remove a tick if we find one?

How hard ticks are to see depends on the dog's type of coat and how vigilant owners are. If you see one, grab close to skin with tweezers and gently pull or get a tick twister from your vet. There are excellent prescription tick and flea preventatives that are very important for dogs living in tick heavy areas to help prevent Lyme Disease.

Is there anything else we should be aware of this summer?

Yes, beware of porcupines, toxic plants, cars and insecticides.

(Here's what to do if your dog gets quilled. Consult this helpful list from the ASPCA for plants that are toxic to dogs. These are some helpful tips for safe gardening with pets. Info on pet poisoning and first aid can be found here and here.)

Where can we look for more tips on canine summer safety?

I recommend a couple of articles; this one from the ASPCA, and this one from the CVMA. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.