Summer is a time for fun, but it is also a season that can cause your dog great stress from overexposure to heat.
It is important for dog owners to be able to recognize the signs of overheating. The hot heat of summer can take a big toll on your dog’s health. The recognition of warning signs and your quick reaction to the problem can save your dog’s life.
The major reason that dogs can overheat faster than humans is that the canines do not have many sweat glands. While we cool our bodies through the perspiration process, a dog cannot. Canines pant to remove excess body heat. It is vital that owners know the difference between normal panting and excessive panting, which is an indication of severe overheating or hyperthermia. Too high of a body temperature can be devastating. It can cause brain damage and death.
Don’t count on your dog to know when to stop playing. Dogs are fun-loving animals and many will go until they drop. Keep a watchful eye and stop your dog when you think he or she has had enough exercise in the summer heat.
Dogs that overheat can suffer heat stroke. This is a result of the dog’s body temperature, which is normally 101 or 102 degrees Fahrenheit, climbing to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. At 106 degrees Fahrenheit, the process of dehydration begins and the blood thickens. This puts strain on the heart and results in a decreased amount of circulation among the vital organs and tissues.
When your dog is exposed to hot temperatures, watch for rapid panting and thick, drooling saliva. The dog’s tongue may turn bright red in color and the eyes can take on a glassy look. Some dogs will experience a lack of coordination. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, unresponsiveness and disorientation.
If you notice these signs, have someone call the veterinarian immediately while you try to take some action to cool the dog’s body temperature. If you are alone with the dog, work on cooling the dog and then call the veterinarian. Chances are good that the dog’s doctor will want to see him or her.
Overheated dogs that are still conscious can be cooled off by wetting them down with a water hose. If your dog doesn’t like being squirted with a hose, put the pet in a tub of cold water for several seconds. A cool lake, pond, stream or swimming pool will also work. Just be sure to hold the dog’s head above water.
You can also try placing an ice pack on the dog’s head. Sponging the belly, the area between the legs and his head with cool water is another means of bringing down the dog’s body temperature.
It is important to provide fresh, cold water for the dog to drink. At the very least, wet the dog’s tongue with cool water.
If possible, place a fan nearby so that it blows a cool breeze on your overheated dog. Another option is to get the dog into an air conditioned building.
Dog owners need to realize that they can cool their pet’s body too much. Use a thermometer to monitor the dog’s temperature. Stop cooling measures when the dog’s body temperature reaches 104 or 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your dog is unconscious, use a rectal thermometer to take his or her temperature to see if the condition is a result of overheating. Once you determine overheating is the problem, try cooling the dog with a hose or immerse him or her in a cool bath for one minute. Be sure to hold the dog’s head out of the water. Remove the dog from the bath and immediately head to the veterinarian’s office. Do not wrap the dog in a towel. This will only serve to trap the body heat that you are trying to release.
It is best to prevent your dog from overheating. Prevention is a lot easier than treatment. Older dogs or those that suffer from illnesses such as heart disease, respiratory problems, obesity or old age should be kept in the shade. Discourage hard exercise in the beating sun.
Dogs need to have cool, fresh water available at all times. Don’t hesitate to add ice cubes to the water.
Never leave your dog in a parked car with the windows up. In fact, if it is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, consider leaving the dog behind in the coolness of your home or the shade of your yard. If you take the dog with you during hot water, park in the shade and leave the windows open so that your dog can get fresh air. The temperature in a closed car can quickly climb to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Avoid taking your dog on hot sand, concrete or asphalt. These materials reflect the heat on to your dog’s body.
Don’t include your dog in your exercise program during the heat of the summer day. Walk or run in the cooler evening hours.
Don’t muzzle dogs that are outdoors in hot weather.
If you insist on taking your dog to the beach with you on a hot day, make sure he or she is allowed to swim there. If the dog cannot get wet, don’t take it or find another beach.
Allow your dog access to air conditioned rooms in your house.
Provide ice cubes for the dog to chew on.
You can also fill ice packs that your dog can lay on to keep cool.
Much of protecting your dog from overheating comes down to using common sense. Think what it would be like to stroll around in the summer heat with a fur coat on. Sound like a bad idea? It is, but your dog has no choice in the matter, so it is up to you to take care to protect him or her. Your diligence can save your dog’s life.