Sun and Heat Exposure, and Skin and Fur Care:
* The sun’s rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so when possible, plan walks and outings earlier or later.
* Dogs can get sunburn, which can lead to discomfort, skin damage and even skin cancer. Vets advise applying sunblock to sun-sensitive areas such as nose and ears, particularly during the high-sun times of the day and for pets with short fur and fair skin. To be effective, sunblock should be at least SPF 15, plus should be applied more than 15 minutes before sun exposure. Note: some experts recommend that zinc oxide not be used on pets. If your pet gets a sunburn, contact your veterinarian.
* For burns and other skin problems, you can bathe the pet in an oatmeal-type bath or with Aveeno. For hot spots, you can saturate a cotton ball with witch hazel and apply on hot spots for several days. You can seal in moisture with petroleum jelly. Aloe vera from plants and creams can help heal skin.
* Use good protection against ticks and fleas. Many people prefer topical solutions such as Frontline, but there are many choices. Consult your veterinarian before using such treatments on a sick, debilitated, very young or pregnant pet. Do not use dog products on cats and vice versa. FYI: dogs should be on monthly heartworm prevention medicine available from your vet. Also, instead of using all-in-one type medications, some of us prefer to use flea/tick meds only during months when ticks and fleas are problems.
* Bring ample water and a water bowl on long walks and car rides.
* You can keep a spray bottle of water handy for spritzing the dog’s head and paws. However, do not spritz a dog’s face if he is skittish or afraid of being sprayed.
* Avoid overexertion in hot weather. Seek out shaded places to exercise and avoid exercise when it is really hot. If your dog shows fatigue, take him home or to a cool, shaded area without delay. See the Heat Stroke section near the end of this tipsheet.
* Avoid hot asphalt and other surfaces that can burn your dog’s footpads. Dogs perspire through their feet, so long periods on hot pavement reduce their ability to cool themselves.
* Do not leave dogs out in the sun for long periods, even in a safe yard. Whenever the dog is outside, make sure he has access to fresh, cool water in a nontippable bowl and shade.
* The heat tends to affect elderly, overweight and larger dogs more quickly.
* Long-haired dogs can overheat quicker than their short-haired counterparts.
* While short fur can be a benefit, avoid shaving your dog down to the skin. Fur protects dogs from sunburn and actually helps insulate them against high heat. It also makes it harder for bugs to bite their skin.
* Snub-nosed dogs, and those with heart, lung or other conditions, should be kept indoors, preferably with air-conditioning, as much as possible.