Summertime is a marvelous time for outdoor activities, BBQ's with friends and family, maybe some frisbee in the park, or perhaps a fun walk with your dog; there's lots of opportunity for exciting outdoor adventure. For all the fun to be had with the sun shining bright and hot, summertime can be dangerous and potentially life threatening for man's best friend.
Dogs are more likely to overheat faster than their human counterparts for more reasons than the obvious coat they're wearing. Humans have millions of sweat glands that help regulate our body temperature; dogs only have a few sweat glands and the bulk are in their feet.
What causes overheating in dogs? Sun, humidity, poorly ventilated areas--like a parked car, yards that don't provide adequate shade.
Dogs with Higher Risk of Heat Stroke: ~Long Haired Dogs ~Dogs with Double Coats (example: Collies) ~Overweight Dogs ~Elderly Dogs ~Dog with Respiratory Problems ~Breeds with Short Noses (Pugs & Bulldogs)
Early Over-Heating Warning Signs: ~Not Wanting to Walk ~Excessive Panting (more than usual) ~Tongue Hanging Out Excessively ~Listlessness ~Bright Red Gums ~Glassy Eyes
Symptoms of Heat Stroke: ~Hyperventilation ~Thick Rope-Like Saliva ~Dry Gum Tissue ~Gray or Blue Gums ~Vomiting ~Diarrhea ~Confusion ~Seizures
If your dog shows any serious heat stroke symptoms (as listed above) take your dog to the veterinarian right away.
Enthusiastic dogs and working breeds will keep going until they drop. Be aware of your dog's needs and treat them with the necessary care. Many dogs love to ride along in the car with you, their best buddies; it's essential to remember--on sunny days, a partially rolled down window probably won't give your dog enough ventilation. Did you know the temperature in a parked car with windows slightly cracked on sunny day of 85 degrees can reach over 100 degrees in just 10 minutes? After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach in excess of 120 degrees! This is without factoring in the dog's coat and limited sweat glands. Depending on your plans during the heat of the day, the best way to show your pet love may be to leave them safely at home.
How to Safely Cool Your Dog Down:
Provide cool drinking water. Increase the air flow around your dog with a fan or air conditioning. You can also apply room temperature or slightly cool water to the foot pads, groin, underbelly and front chest. Last summer, ice bucket challenges were all the rage but using ice or ice cold water on your dog can shut down the circulation and cause more distress. Remember to bring the temperature down slowly.
You can also wet a towel with slightly cool water and wrap your dog briefly, then gently pat the wet towel to the paw pads. If you are on a walk with your dog and you notice distress signals, find shade immediately, allow your dog to rest. If your dog is a small breed, carry the dog home. If this is not possible, try to take your cellular phone on walks and call for a ride, if needed. They may not be running down tennis balls in the park but cats can get overheated too. Remember they too need clean water and proper ventilation and/or shady spots to beat the summer heat.
If you see an animal in potential distress (in a parked car on a sunny day) call 911. Because we love our furry friends!