Climate change is bringing about more extreme weather conditions for everyone and the hot temperatures can sometimes hit the point of being unbearable. Hot temperatures don’t just affect you – they can also take a real toll on your dog. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help keep your dog cool this summer.
DO DOGS SWEAT?
Dogs do sweat, but they don’t sweat in the same way that we do. Dogs actually sweat from glands that are located in their paw pads. Have you noticed on a hot day that your dog leaves paw prints on the ground or on your floor? Now you know why! We sweat through our skin but imagine if a dog was to sweat through their skin. With a dog’s fur the sweat wouldn’t evaporate in the same way as it does on their paw pads – thus being a very ineffective way for them to cool down.
Sweating through their paws isn’t all that effective so thankfully they have other ways to cool down. The most efficient way they are able to do that is through panting. When a dog pants, the moisture from their tongues and nasal passages evaporates and circulates cooler temperatures throughout their body.
DO YOUR DOG A FAVOR – LEAVE THEM HOME!
The absolutely number one rule about dogs in summer… if you are going out to run errands, somewhere where your dog has to wait in the car… do them a favor and leave them home! DO NOT leave your dog in the car! Surely you wouldn’t leave your child in the car…. at least I hope you wouldn’t… well, the same rules apply for your dog.
According to a study which was highlighted by the AVMA, temperatures in a car, on a WARM day, can reach 110 deg F / 43 deg C in a matter of minutes! And this is with the windows being left open a crack for air circulation. I’m not sure about you, but that’s too hot for me! Your dog has no way to escape from those kinds of temperatures if you have locked them in the car.
Temperatures like these leave a dog at a high risk for heat stroke, which can be fatal for your dog… and sometimes within minutes.
WHAT IS HEAT STROKE?
A dog’s normal internal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 deg F. When a dog’s body temperature is above 105 deg F / 41.1 deg C they may be suffering from heat stroke. All dogs are susceptible to heat stroke, but breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs, which are the brachycelphalic breeds can experience severe effects much sooner than other breeds. Senior dogs and overweight dogs are also more susceptible to heat stroke.
SIGNS OF HEAT STROKE
According to Animal Emergency Service, early signs of heat stroke dogs can appear as some, or all, of the following:
- Internal body temperature above 105 deg F / 41.1 deg C
- Restlessness or agitation
- Excessing panting / difficulty breathing
- Drooling / excessive salivation
- Gums changed color (dark red, pale, purple, blue)
As the condition progresses, signs and symptoms can include:
- Vomiting / diarrhea (possibly with blood)
- Increased heart rate
- Lethargy or collapse
- Dizziness, confusion, delirium
- Muscle tremors
- Loss of consciousness
If you suspect your dog could have heat stroke, seek veterinary care immediately.
ways to keep your dog cool
There are a lot of ways to help keep your dog cool when the temperatures are HOT, HOT, HOT! Here are only a handful:
- Have fresh, clean water available for your dog to keep them hydrated. If you are traveling, consider taking a frozen bottle of water with you. The ice will melt slowly allowing you to have chilled water for both you, and your dog, on hand.
- If you are participating in outdoor activities – or training with your dog outdoors – keep the sessions short and sweet! Any time you are able, choose to play or train early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperatures are cooler.
- If you have access to a small dog (or kiddie) pool that you can place in the shade, it makes a great spot for your dog to cool off! If you don’t have access to a pool, but have a yard, you could try an oscillating sprinkler.
- As much as possible keep your dog out of the hot sun during the prime of the day and have a plan and/or a place where your dog can access shade whenever possible. An outdoor umbrella or a pop-up canopy are a couple of ideas if you need to create a shady area.
- If you have a dog with a double coat – like a golden retriever, husky, border collie, etc – do NOT shave them! You might think they will be cooler, but their coat acts as a regulator for both hot and cold weather. You can read more on that here.
- Try to keep your dog from walking on hot surfaces that can burn their paw pads. Again, if you are able to do walks earlier or later in the day surfaces will be cooler for their pads.
- There are a number of dog-friendly ice cream recipes that can be made in advance and serve as a nice cold treat for your dog. If you are looking for some recipe ideas, Rover.com has a few you can try. I am sure you should be able to find one of your dog’s favorite flavors for a great summer treat!
- Some simple do-it-yourself frozen toys can not only provide a way to “chill”, but also can provide some enrichment benefits for your dog. Here’s an idea: Take a towel and tie a couple of knots in it. Soak the towel in water for a few minutes, wring out excess water and freeze for several hours. Like any toy, be sure to supervise your dog while they have access to the frozen towel. Another popular idea is to stuff and freeze Kongs for a cool and fun treat for your dog on a hot day.
I love summer. I have also had dogs that are more seriously affected by the heat and it takes a little creativity to come up with ideas on how to keep them cool … and entertained!
Do you have a summer time tip for keeping your dog cool? Or a favorite ice cream or frozen treat? Do tell!