Certainly, everybody loves summertime; it is the perfect season for us animal-lovers to spend some quality time with our canine companions by going on walks, hikes, taking a much-needed swim, or even just lounging out on the grass, basking in the sunshine. While these activities are indeed all in good fun, it is very important for any responsible dog-owner to understand that Dogs are very susceptible to heatstroke during these hot summer days, especially:
- The very young, the very old and overweight dogs.
- Dogs not acclimated to heat, who spend most of their lives indoors in air conditioned environments, have trouble adjusting to high temperatures.
- Brachycephalic dogs -- those with pushed-in faces, like pugs and bulldogs suffer most from heat.
Unlike humans, who cool themselves off by sweating, dogs cool off by panting; they take in the cool air from outside in order to combat the heat they feel inside their bodies. The average temperature for a dog is 100-103 degrees. Walking your dog early in the morning or late evening in low humidity is a much kinder and safer for your animal.
Unfortunately for our favorite critters, it becomes difficult for them to cool themselves when they are faced with scorching temperatures. Even going on a slow walk can be dangerous for your dog.
- The only way a dog can cool itself is through panting and sweating through its foot pads.
- If the air is hotter than the body, the dog cannot cool down.
- Walking on hot pavement can burn their paws.
Leaving your dog in a car with the windows cracked for “just a minute” can be fatal too, especially since car temperatures can skyrocket on warm days until the temperature in the car is actually HOTTER than it is outside. So, how do you know if your dog is overheated?
Heatstroke Symptoms in dogs include:
- Excessive Salivating
- Glazed, staring eyes
- Weak pulse
- Red, enlarged tongue
- High Fever (Body temperature is 104 degrees or higher)
Heat stroke can occur within 20 minutes.
As the animal's temperature rises, the muscles and internal organs shut down. It is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate emergency intervention. In advanced stages of heat stroke a dog will become listless and weak and experience increased difficulty breathing. Left untreated, heatstroke is fatal.
If you suspect that your dog is overheated, here is what to do:
- Bring your dog into the shade
- use a garden hose, (recommended) a bucket, or a towel cloth to a apply cool (but NOT ice-cold) water to your dog’s body; focus mainly on the undersides, including the groin and the armpits.
- Remember that drinking water alone will NOT solve the problem
- Bring your dog to the vet! Even if you “think” that he or she is fine “now,” you could be wrong. It is best to let a professional assess the situation before something dire happens to your canine companion.
A small thermometer in your car will help you gauge and experience how quickly the interior temperature rises. (Village Critter Outfitter sells thermometers for just this purpose.)
Here's a rough example of how quickly the temperature rises in a closed vehicle with 4 "cracked" windows. Humidity and sun was not taken into account.
- 80 degrees outside temp - 20 minutes inside vehicle = 109 degrees
- 80 degrees outside temp - 30 minutes inside vehicle = 114 degrees
- 85 degrees outside temp - 20 minutes inside vehicle = 114 degrees
- 85 degrees outside temp - 20 minutes inside vehicle = 119 degrees
- As the minutes increase so doesn't the temp inside the vehicle.
As man’s best friend, we owe it to our dogs to return the courtesy; so, be a friend and make sure your dog is nice and cool during these hot days.