By Emily Bruer
It’s officially HOT outside, and it’s important that you have a plan to keep your dog comfortable and prevent overheating during these sweltering summer months. While it is true that some breeds are more susceptible to the heat than others, it’s a good idea to have a plan for your dog no matter his breed.
The most important thing to remember this summer is that your dog has no way of expressing to you that he is overheating. In fact, he may not even know. A dog that is having fun playing in the sun is similar to a small child, and as long as he is enjoying himself he’ll keep playing long after it’s safe.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind as you and your pup enjoy the summer.
Be sure to keep a bowl and water with you at all times. Keeping yourself and your furry friend hydrated is the first step to beating the heat this summer. It’s good to keep in mind that ice cold water, though it feels refreshing to us, can be a little hard on a dog’s stomach. It’s best to give them water that is below or at room temperature.
Make sure your pooch has access to shade. It is often up to 10 degrees cooler in the shade. So, if you notice your pooch is panting excessively it may be time for him to take a break until his breathing is back to normal.
Never leave your dog unattended in the car. If the temperature is over 70 degrees outside, the car will quickly become too hot for your dog. Even if you are just running inside for a few minutes you never know what could keep you in the store, and while you are cool inside it’s easy to forget your companion is outside overheating.
Don’t give your dog large meals when it’s hot outside. Like us, a large meal on a hot day can cause a dog to get an upset stomach and possibly even cause him to vomit or have diarrhea. Both conditions can cause dehydration, so it’s best to feed smaller meals throughout the day.
Kiddie pools. Kiddie pools are a great way for your dog to stay cool while outside in the summer. You can usually get them for about $10-20, and your dog will thank you for it. Be sure to change the water every 2-3 days, or sooner if you see it’s dirty.
Be mindful about exercise. Try to only exercise your dog in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. Also, never let dogs walk on hot pavement as they could burn their paw pads. If it is over 90 degrees outside your dog should be inside where it is cool, or calmly relaxing in the shade.
If you are following all these tips but notice your dog is panting excessively and can’t seem to cool off, it’s important you get him inside as soon as possible. Sometimes heat exhaustion can sneak up on us and it can be very dangerous for our dogs.
Offer your dog water and soak two towels with cool water. Have your dog lie on one towel and drape the other over his back. If you’re outside with no access to towels, immerse your dog gradually in cool water (such as a fountain or stream).
If you have a thermometer, take his temperature. The normal temperature for a dog is about 100-101.5F; if your dog’s temp is over 104F, get him to the vet immediately.
Overheating can cause seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and a plethora of other uncomfortable symptoms. Getting him to your vet will allow them to cool him down safely while also providing fluids to prevent dehydration.
Brachycephalic dogs like Pugs, French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, and other smooshed faced breeds are extremely susceptible to overheating, as they have a harder time breathing than the average dog. Double-coated dogs like Malamutes and Saint Bernards can also have a hard time in the summer heat, so take extra care to make sure they stay cool.
The best tip for preventing heat stress this summer – leave your dog at home during the day, in a cool, climate-controlled environment. Take him out in the early morning and late evening for exercise, and keep potty breaks short during the worst of the heat.
Emily has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.