Five Ways To Keep Pets Healthy This Summer

Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with family, friends -- and pets!  At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we know that pets are important to our patients’ healthy, happiness and well-being.  Here are five key ways to keep four-legged friends healthy during the warm summer months.

1. Avoid outdoor activities in the heat of the day.

Dogs are good at naturally regulating their body temperature, which is why they seek shade, or the cool bathroom tile floor, in the heat of the day.  Avoid long walks or other exertional outdoor activities when the temperatures are at their peak to prevent your dog from getting overheated. Instead, try to plan activities in the morning or in the late afternoon.  If you do have plans to be outside in the middle of the day, make sure your pet has access to shade and plenty of water.

2. Know the signs of dog dehydration.

It’s important to pay attention to your pet to make sure they’re not suffering from dehydration.  Decreased appetite, lethargy and increased panting can indicate your dog isn’t getting enough water.  Another way to detect dehydration is to do a “pinch test.”  Gently pinch your dog’s skin between your thumb and index finger.  A hydrated dog’s skin will quickly spring back to place when you let go.  A dehydrated dog’s skin will stay “pinched” when you release pressure.  

To avoid dehydration, make sure that water is always readily available to your pet.  And if you’re traveling, make sure to bring plenty of water to give your pet along the way.

3. Protect their pads.

Dogs’ pads are sensitive, so if they walk on hot concrete, their paws will hurt -- and even burn -- like yours would if you walked barefoot on hot concrete. To avoid hurting your dog’s pads, walk them at cooler times of the day, and walk them in grassy areas.  

If you’re going to be outdoors for extended periods of time where walking on concrete or asphalt is unavoidable, bring pad protectors so your furry friend will be comfortable.

4. Be careful about summer haircuts.

You may think you’re doing your dog a favor by shearing them during the summer months to keep them cool, but in fact, you might be doing more harm than good.  Many dogs’ coats help to regulate their temperature and protect them from sun exposure. Cutting their hair short may increase their risk of sunburn or dehydration.  If you’re not sure what’s best for your furry friend, talk to your vet before booking that grooming session.

5. Don’t leave your dog in the car.

Temperatures in cars during the summertime can soar to 140 degrees due to trapped solar energy.  Because dogs can’t perspire like humans do, they pant to try to cool down their core temperature.  Panting can lead not only to dehydration, but also to respiratory distress. It’s dangerous to leave your dog in a hot car, even for short periods of time, and even if you crack a window.   If you can’t bring your dog where you’re going, consider leaving them at home where they’ll be shaded, hydrated, comfortable and safe.

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At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we want you to have a happy, healthy and safe summer!  We have six locations in the Bay Area, open seven days a week, to care for you. Make an appointment online or simply walk in if you need us.

Author
Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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