As warmer summertime temperatures approach, it’s important to remember that dogs are vulnerable to injuries and illnesses related to hot weather, including heat stroke, dehydration, sunburn, and foot pad burns.
Dogs don’t have the ability to sweat, and panting can’t always fully cool a dog down when they are overheated. Heat exhaustion is generally the early stages when a dog begins overheating.
You can often remedy the effects by taking immediate action to reduce the animals’ body temperature and prevent the more deadly heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion symptoms can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid panting
- Reddening skin inside the ears
If you see these symptoms, get your dog inside quickly to a cooler area like a basement or near a fan, and offer fresh water. Dampen the skin with lukewarm water and allow it to air-dry.
Any pet that cannot cool off is at risk for heat stroke, but some breeds and dogs with certain conditions are more susceptible. Heart disease, obesity, older age, or breathing problems put the dog at higher risk, and for these animals even normal activities in intense heat can be harmful.
Dogs with shorter snouts, like Pugs or Bulldogs, have a harder time panting out their body heat, and certain breeds don’t tolerate the heat as well as others. This group includes English and French Bulldogs, Boxers, Saint Bernards, Pugs, and Shih Tzus.
What can a pet parent do to prevent heat stroke danger? Be smart and proactive!
Here are six ways you can help your pet maintain their body temperature and avoid heat stroke in summer:
- When the temperature is high, don’t let your dog linger on hot surfaces like asphalt and cement. Being so close to the ground can heat their body quickly and is also an invitation for burns on sensitive paw pads. Keep walks to a minimum.
- Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut can help prevent overheating, but never shave to the skin. Dogs need one inch of protection to prevent sunburns.
- Provide access to fresh water at all times. Make certain an outside dog has access to shade and plenty of cool water.
- Restrict exercise when temperatures soar.
- Many dogs enjoy a swim, splashing in a wading pool, or a run through a sprinkler in warmer weather. This can help bring body temperatures down.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car, not even if you park in the shade or plan to be gone for only a few minutes. The temperature inside of a car can reach oven-like temperatures in just minutes, often in excess of 140 degrees. That quick errand can turn into a disaster and could be fatal for your pet.
Dogs are, by nature, protective of their owners. Dog owners can return the favor by protecting their pets from the dangers of excessive heat so they can safely enjoy the welcome warmth of the summer season.