A golden retriever holds a pink fish toy in its mouth.

With the summer months approaching, it is important to know how the change in weather may affect your furry friend. The heat can be extremely dangerous for a dog, but dogs are not likely to realize the dire state they are in while they’re running around having a good time. Instead, the signs of heat exhaustion often set in after bouts of intense heat or activity — sometimes, after it’s too late to save the dog’s life.

In a place where the weather changes dramatically or consistently reaches temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, a dog owner should customize a summer routine based on their location, the dog’s breed, and their usual activity level. 

While Central Pennsylvania boasts white winters, it still will see many such warm days ahead. Make sure to put the following information and tips to good use to keep your pooch healthy and ready to enjoy many more summers ahead.

 The Dangers of Too Much Fun in the Sun

Dog summer safety starts with understanding the dangers that the season brings. 

Being outside too long in the summer can lead to uncomfortable conditions for dogs, including: 

  • Sunburn: Pet sunscreen is essential for dogs when the weather is hot and sunny because pups are just as sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays as humans. Animals with short, light-colored fur are most prone to sunburns due to their skin exposure, but any pup can develop a sunburn after too much time in direct light. 
  • Heatstroke: A dog’s normal internal temperature should range between 101 and 102.5 degrees fahrenheit. Heatstroke, or hyperthermia, happens when a dog’s temperature exceeds 103 degrees. By 106 degrees fahrenheit, their condition becomes serious. Temperatures between 107 and 109 degrees fahrenheit can be deadly for a canine. Common symptoms of heatstroke include vomiting, sticky or abnormally colored gums, rapid breathing, diarrhea, and lethargy. 
  • Overexertion: When a pet spends too much time in direct sunlight, they lose energy faster. Your dog may overexert themselves and not realize it right away, leading to more serious conditions like heatstroke or going unconscious. Close monitoring is necessary when enjoying time in the sun.   
  • Dehydration: Active pups can dehydrate quickly, so it is important to offer constant access to fresh, clean water. When a dog is enjoying the outdoors, provide a bowl of water closer by and occasionally guide them to drink and rehydrate. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, panting, dry nose, abnormal/dry/tacky gums, loss of skin elasticity, lethargy, dark urine, shock, and weakness.  
  • Parasites and insects: Fleas, ticks, mites, mosquitos, and other parasites can transmit deadly diseases like Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and, most commonly, heartworm. These pests are also more prevalent during the summer months, but preventative treatments can protect your dog from an infestation.
  • Burns from hot surfaces: The ground can be hot for pet paws; asphalt, sand, and concrete all reach temperatures high enough to burn their paw pads, causing bleeding, blistering, and scabs. This is painful for dogs and can limit their mobility or even lead to infections if left untreated.  
  • Swimming dangers: While your dog may love to splash around and cool down, swimming in large bodies of water can be dangerous. Drowning is a real hazard for pups, even proficient swimmers, so they should never be left unsupervised during this summertime activity. Pet parents can invest in safeguards, like coverings for hot tubs and gates for pools, so their canine friend does not risk falling in. 

Keep Them Hydrated

The sun is physically draining, so in the warmer months, it is important to monitor a dog’s hydration. Pups will need more water in the summertime, so providing extra hydration stations and ways to get fluids in their body can prevent overheating. 

Our best hydration tips for dogs focus on their diet. A dog’s diet greatly affects their hydration, so meal time is a better way to keep them juiced up compared to offering them water once dehydrating activities have already started. 

Almost 40% of dog parents rely exclusively on dry kibble for their primary diet, but this food can be dehydrating when it’s the only thing dogs eat. When the weather gets hot, pup parents should consider including wet food into their dog’s diet or simply adding water to their serving of dry kibble. Wet treats are also a quick and convenient way to add moisture to a dog’s food. 

Making Frozen Treats to Cool Your Dog Down

While preventative measures outside are the only way to prevent heat stroke, there’s nothing quite like a cooling refreshment once they’ve wound down and found their way to the shade.

You can try keeping dogs cool by making frozen treats at home with a handful of simple ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen. Homemade treats are easy to make, healthy, and fun for your pet to enjoy. You can customize these homemade treats in a variety of ways, like experimenting with flavors or pouring them into fun molds, like pup-cicles.  

For a delicious peanut butter and banana treat, mix plain Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and mashed banana together. Add a teaspoon of water if the mixture is too thick. Then, pour the mixture into bite-sized molds to freeze overnight. 

These fun treats are incredibly customizable! You can add ingredients like blueberries or bone broth to fit your pup’s preferences. Pop one of these treats out of the freezer during playtime as a way to cool down, or offer them as a rewarding snack afterward. 

Adjust Your Pup’s Activity Schedule

When the temperature starts to rise, consider changing your dog’s schedule for playing outside or going on walks. 

Just after sunrise and right before sunset are the best times for a dog to be outside during the summer. Pups should not be outdoors during the hottest hours of the day — generally midday — but instead should go on walks and play outside when the outdoor temperatures are at their lowest for the day.  

Monitor Activity Level — Pups Need More Rest in the Summer

Dogs need to conserve their energy in the hot summer months because of how draining outdoor playtime can become. Before and after going outside, it is important for a dog to be well-rested. 

Rest and breaks to rehydrate can make a big impact on your pup’s physical condition, and help them enjoy their time outside more comfortably.  

Play in the Water!

A dog needs to enjoy some time out in the sun, so pet parents get creative in finding ways to keep them cool while outside. Just make sure to always watch your dog closely in any standing water and follow safety tips for dog swimming.

Water can be a fun attraction for pups, and it is cheaper than most backyard toys at the pet store! Running through the sprinklers and playing with the hose can be fun pastimes for dogs that keep their body temperature neutralized while they blow off some steam. 

Kiddie pools are a safer option for dogs than traditional pools. Enjoying a smaller pool will conserve energy because a medium/large dog won’t need to consistently paddle to keep themselves afloat. 

Common Summertime Threats 

The following list highlights some of the most common threats to dogs that owners should keep in mind during the summer months: 

  • Hot pavement: When you take your dog out for a walk in the summer, it is critical to check the temperature of the pavement. Most dogs don’t feel comfortable in canine shoes, and without paw protection, they should not be walking outside during the hottest hour of the day. The general rule of thumb is if you cannot press the back of your hand to the ground for 10 seconds, then the ground is too hot for your dog to walk on. 
  • Hot Vehicle Interiors: Every year, hundreds of dogs suffer fatal symptoms of heat exhaustion after being left alone in a hot vehicle. If a pet owner needs to leave their pet in the car, it should only be in an air-conditioned vehicle and for a short period of time. Pennsylvania passed an Animals in Distress Law (Act 104 od 2018), which allows law enforcement and other public safety professionals to remove animals from unattended vehicles if the situation appears to be dangerous, even if it means breaking a window to get to the dog.
  • Thick coat: Some dog breeds have a dense undercoat that keeps them warm during the winter, but they will usually shed most of this coat around spring for the upcoming summer heat. However, breeds with thick undercoats tend to have excessive amounts of fur year-round, which can act like a turtleneck in 100+ degree weather. Consistent grooming is important for maintaining a healthy coat. 
  • Dog houses: Dog houses are small outdoor enclosures that can provide shade for the pup while it lounges outside. These shaded stations do not have air conditioning and can get dangerous in hot weather. Even if your dog flocks to the space in a desperate attempt to cool down in the hot weather, it may not be enough. 

Greenlin in Harrisburg Has Got Your Back on Hot Summer Days

Hot or cold, rain or shine — Greenlin has a place for your dog to play. Greenlin Pet Resorts is a locally trusted Pennsylvania facility equipped with air-conditioned indoor play spaces for the extra hot days. Even when your dog can’t go outside, they’ll still enjoy a day of enriching activities at Greenlin. 

We have dog-safe swimming pools available to our dog daycare and dog boarding guests, which can be located inside or outside, depending on the location you choose to bring your pet to.

Our facilities also provide dog bathing services as a luxury add-on to every stay. Give your pup a coat-refreshing and paw-pampering spa day. 

To learn more about how Greenlin can help keep your dog comfortable through the heat waves, call or contact one of our 6 Harrisburg-area dog daycare and boarding locations  or book your pet’s stay online! 

Click on the location nearest you: