Making Sure Your Dog Doesn’t Overheat

Making Sure Your Dog Doesn’t Overheat

Summer is here – yipeee!

While you’re out and about enjoying the days in the sun take a quick moment to consider how all this hot weather is affecting your poochy pal. We humans too quickly forget that our dogs are wearing a fur coat 24/7 all year round. This is a nice bonus in the cooler weather but come summer it can be a real bummer – or even life threatening.

Every dog breed will be wearing a different coat but obviously an Alaskan Malamute will have a harder time dealing with the heat that that skinny Chihuahua. However, all dogs, regardless of breed, have a higher body temperature than we do. Normal body temperature for dogs is about 101 degrees F, so they’re starting off higher up along the mercury than we are.

In addition to the higher body temp, dogs also only have one way to release excess heat and that’s panting. Once they get hot, the panting starts, followed by drooling. If a dog drools enough he will then become dehydrated, which is yet another problem associated with the warmer temperatures.

This means it’s a much quicker trip to heat exhaustion for our dogs and we need to be aware of this and take the necessary precautions.

Warning Signs

Here are some things to look for:

  1. Excessive panting
  2. Lots of drool
  3. Glassy eyes
  4. Loss of coordination
  5. Vomiting
  6. Diarrhea

If you see one or more of these symptoms, get your dog out of the heat immediately! The best way to get a basic physical perspective of their temperature is to put your hand under their armpit. If it feels hot (above the avg. 101 degrees) get them some relief from the heat asap. Black dogs are more at risk because there dark coats soak up the sun like crazy. And of course, dog with lots of fur.

Although I shouldn’t have to say this, I’m going to anyway because I see this waaaaaaaaay too much. Don’t leave your dog in the car for any length of time in the summer. I’ve got news for you, leaving the window cracked does zip to keep Fido cool. That’s right, nada. Leave ’em home on the hot days or run your errands another time.

How to Cool Them Off

  1. Get them in the shade, or better yet, indoors into the air conditioning
  2. Give him water (in small amounts) or ice cubes to munch
  3. Hose them down or sponge them with cold water

Keep in mind that dogs are really bad at limiting themselves so it’s up to you to do it for them. They will keep running around and playing even as their internal temperature climbs to unsafe levels. Make sure you make them take breaks and constantly cool them down.

If your dog seems lethargic or unresponsive even after you bring him out of the sun take him to a vet. This is serious stuff, and you don’t what to take chances.

A final thing I want to mention is hot asphalt. The sun can really heat that stuff up and although your dog’s pads are tough, they can burn. I was once walking my dog Hayley through a big parking lot after a day of hiking and noticed that she was running back and forth to the shadows created by the parked cars. Suspecting that it might be the hot asphalt I put my hand down on the parking lot and couldn’t believe how hot it was.

The summer is a fun time but it can also pose a danger to our pets if we don’t think of these things in advance. If you consider this stuff now you’ll never have to deal with the worse case scenario and I’ll consider my job done.

  • hmacalle

    Having gone through this once myself with my short snouted dog, I can tell you that even if you think it’s a gorgeous 75 degrees and breezy day, you can still overheat your dog.  Fern is right about saying that it’s up to the owner to limit the dog’s exposure.  They just keep running around and then try to lie down in the cool dirt like my girl did on the way home from the dog park one day.  I managed to get her home and cooled her off immediately by placing towels that I ran under cold water and put under her armpits and groin, replaced them frequently and kept the fan on high.  Air conditioning is even better, like Fern said.  I was lucky.  A friend of mine left her little pug in a car for a short trip to the drug store with the windows slightly open and was not as fortunate.  It can happen and this post is important information.

    • ferndog

       @hmacalle When dogs overheat and it gets to a dangerous level, it’s a scary experience. Any dog with a pushed in face is already a breathing disadvantage and they need even more restrictions in the heat and especially the humidity.

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