Safer Ways To Enjoy The Dog Days Of Summer

With summertime temperatures breaking triple digits across the Southwest, leash walks can be complicated for pet owners, particularly dog owners. But even if you live in an area where the air temperature feels mild, always remember that the pavement might be too hot for your dog — 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the air temperature.

“The best time to leash walk a dog is at dawn or about an hour after dusk when the sidewalk has had time to cool down,” says Melissa Parker, a certified professional dog trainer with Pawtastic Friends in Las Vegas. “Dog parks are a great alternative, but you still have to be careful with your dog from the car to the grass.”

In hot climates like Phoenix or Las Vegas, it’s not uncommon for sidewalks to reach 173 degrees or more — hot enough to cause second- and third-degree burns in seconds. But sidewalks and asphalt can reach 125 or 143 degrees in deceptively mild climates, with temperatures as low as 77 and 87 degrees, respectively.

“Even on the grass at 115 degrees, dogs run the risk of overheating when they run and play,” says Melissa. “We must be more creative to ensure our pets stay safe while they exercise.”

One of the ways that Pawtastic beats the summer heat is by recruiting local homeowners to rent or loan out their pools for short swims. Pool time can also be an excellent opportunity to socialize and meet other dogs.

Paul Newman, a terrier mix, is available for adoption at Samadhi Legacy Foundation.

“I’ve always been a fan of dog swims because it’s a great way for young dogs to get in cardio work and elderly dogs to benefit from weightlessness, especially if they have any arthritic pain,” Melissa said. “Even so, it’s still important to monitor them, making sure they don’t dip below the water — a sure sign they are too tired to swim even if they don’t act tired.”

According to Melissa, dipping below the waterline can lead to potentially fatal water intoxication known as hyponatremia. Dogs that love the water, retrieve items from pools, catch toys in the water, or drink from hoses are most susceptible because too much water can disrupt the electrolyte balance in their bodies. Likewise, she warns, dog owners should be cautious about blue algae around open bodies of water like creeks, ponds, and lakes.

“It’s easy to forget that dogs have a different body chemistry than we do,” said Melissa. “For instance, we all know how quickly a hot car can become uncomfortable or unbearable. For dogs, it can be deadly because they don’t sweat and rely on panting to cool themselves. So while some owners think cracking the windows might be enough, it isn’t because there is very little air circulation and inside temperatures are even hotter than the outside, something like 43 to 48 degrees hotter.”

She says dog owners should add it to their growing list of summer tips. Always avoid hot cars, hot sidewalks, and too much time in the water. Introduce them to indoor games (for smaller dogs), dog booties or shoes, ceramic bowls (metal is too hot), and/or being carried across parking lots as early as possible. And always be on the lookout for pet owners who might not be aware of these summertime tips. A gentle education can go a long way for many owners.

Lamb, a Cava-Poo, can be adopted from House of Second Chances Rescue.

“The pets that we work with for rescues and shelters are those coming from less desirable homes,” said Melissa. “We work with as many as 56 dogs every week, training them so they have a better chance at becoming adopted by the right homes.”

Since this 501c3 nonprofit program was founded by owners Michael and Melissa Novelli in 2016, Pawtastic Friends has helped hundreds of dogs find “furever” homes in Nevada. Currently, the Novelli family staffs five trainers who provide socialization training, basic commands, aqua-therapy, or advanced training as needed.

“Generous donations and dedicated volunteers fuel the success at Pawtastic Friends,” adds Melissa. “If someone is interested, I would encourage them to become a sponsor, make a donation, or volunteer to become a driver, transporting these wonderful dogs from the rescue to our facility.”

Melissa would know. She is a certified dog trainer, trick dog trainer, and accessible dog trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers® and American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen evaluator. In addition to her work with Pawtastic Friends, she also provides private training for dogs who are already part of a loving family.

Guinness 1
Guinness, a bulldog, is being trained as an assistance dog for a U.S. veteran.

For more information about Pawtastic Friends, encourages you to visit their website. also welcomes pet rescues and pet shelters to register rescue pets for free in an effort to help increase pet adoptions.

Tags :
Dog Rescues,Dog Shelters,dogs,Safety Tips,Training

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