Keep Your Pooch Cool in the Sun this Summer

Keep Your Pooch Cool in the Sun this Summer

Summer is coming and things are about to get HOT! But it’s important to keep your pooch in mind while you’re having fun in the sun. Most dogs can be healthy and active in the heat, provided they get lots of water and spend lots of time in the shade.

Heat stress for dogs is real!

Heat stress in dogs is very common and is a serious issue. It’s important for you as an owner to be able to recognize if your dog is going through heat stress and how to treat it. But why are dogs prone to heat stress? As humans, we are able to consciously seek out cooler areas, opening doors and moving to different parts of the house if we feel too hot. However, dogs will sit in the sun for hours if that’s where they’ve been told to do. So if they happen to be in an area that’s too hot, they cannot choose to move elsewhere.

Humans can remove items of clothing if things get too hot, but dogs are stuck in fur coats. On top of all this, we humans sweat from all over our bodies, losing heat from our skin as the moisture evaporates. However, dogs do not sweat in this way.

Dogs lose heat by panting, and you’ll probably notice your dog doing this a lot in the summer. Pooches start to pant because their tongue swells up, fills with warm blood and air is forced rapidly over their tongue. While the dog pants, the fast, shallow breathing evaporates warm moisture from the tongue. The moisture is evaporated into the environment while the cool blood returns from the tongue to the body.

It can be difficult to recognize if a dog has heat stroke without checking it’s temperature first. But if a generally healthy dog flops onto the ground, continuously panting, then something is wrong. It is especially likely that dogs have heatstroke if they’ve been in an enclosed space for quite a while (like a car) or have been exercising heavily in a warm environment.

How can you prevent heatstroke in dogs?

  • On hot days, make sure to take your dogs on walks during cooler times like the evening or morning: To check the temperature of the ground, rest the back of your hand on the pavement for a few seconds and if it’s too hot, then don’t take your pooch on a walk until it cools down
  • Make sure your dog has access to clean water at all times: Ideally a large bowl filled to the top. Carry water with you on walks
  • Never leave your dog alone in the car on a hot day: Even if the windows are open

While we’re on the topic of dogs in cars – According to Peta, on a 78F day, the temperature inside a parked car can rise between 100F and 120F in a matter of minutes; and on a 90F day, the temperature can reach as high as 160F in less than 10 minutes. If you can’t stay with your furry friend, try to take them with you or safely secure them outside in a shady place – but obviously not for too long. Only do this if you’re popping into a store.

When you’re driving, have the air conditioning on to help them stay cool. It may seem adorable when your dog sticks it’s head out of the window, however, this is a breach of the Highway Code and it’s not safe for you, other road users, and your dog.

Recognize the signs of heatstroke in dogs

  • Rapid breathing and panting
  • Raised temperature (101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit is normal for dogs) 
  • Fatigue or depression
  • Muscle tremors
  • Staggering
  • Excess salivation and thickened saliva

If you notice any of these signs, immediately bring the dog inside and call a vet. Wrap your dog in cold, damp towels and use a fan to help cool it down. Continuously check the dog’s temperature (every 5 minutes is fine) and end the cooling treatment when the temperature is down to 102.5°.  Ensure that the dog has access to cool water but don’t force him to drink it – they will do it in their own time.

What are the best dog breeds for the hot weather?

Obviously, dogs with thin, short fur coats (like Beagles, Chihuahuas, Dalmatians etc.) do the best in heat. Dogs who have short noses and thick coats are more likely to suffer as temperatures rise. Urgent treatment is essential – just cool the dog down without over-chilling as this can cause even more problems. One your dog has stopped panting and can walk around normally, stop the cooling process.

And what about dog breeds that are sensitive to climate changes?

As we all know, most dogs can tolerate the hot summer months with regular hydration and environment management, but some dogs just aren’t going to have a good time. All snub-nosed or brachycephalic dogs find it harder to cope with hot temperatures due to their shorter nasal passages. Pugs, bulldogs and Boston terriers are more sensitive to rising temperatures. Other dogs that need special attention during fiery temperatures include elderly, obese, or diabetic animals.

If need be, take your pooch to the vet

First aid should always be your initial reaction.  Vets have additional ways of cooling your pooch down, including cold intravenous infusions.  The vet can monitor the core temperature of the dog with thermometers. Heat stroke is more serious than you may think and can cause serious damage to internal organs, with signs of this damage not being apparent for twenty-four hours or more. Any dogs suspected of suffering from heat stress should be immediately taken to the vet for monitoring and further treatment as needed.

If you happen to be in a park near a shallow river or lake, you could also gently immerse your pooch into the water. Make sure to not use water more than a foot in depth, not allowing their head to go beneath the surface.

While you’re having fun in the sun this summer, don’t forget to ensure your dog is happy and healthy.  If you are in the Las Vegas area, bring them to North Paws Ranch for some relaxation in a dog friendly pool! Dogs are unable to tell you if they’re hot so watch out for any signs we’ve mentioned above.  Thankfully, at North Paws Ranch, there’s always a doggy lifeguard on duty!

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