Summer Safety: Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke in Dogs
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are major concerns for dogs during the summer time. Their fur is great protection against the cold, but can become a hazard during the hot summer months. Furthermore, since dogs don’t sweat like humans do, they can only cool themselves down by panting, which is less effective than sweating.
There are several important steps you can take to keep your furry friend safe from the heat this summer.
1. Know the signs:
Recognize the signs that your dog is becoming too hot. Check out the infographic below for helpful tips on identifying heat exhaustion in your dog.
2. Know your risk
Some dogs are more likely to develop heat exhaustion and heat stroke than others. For example both puppies and old dogs are at higher risk for heat stroke. Snub-nosed dogs, (like pugs), and dogs adapted for colder temperatures (like huskies), are also at greater risk. Dogs with respiratory conditions, arthritis, and Addison’s disease are at a higher risk, along with dogs who are overweight or obese. If your dog falls into one of these categories consult your veterinarian to determine an appropriate activity level and safe degree of heat exposure for your dog.
3. Take action
If you suspect that your dog is overheating, immediately get indoors, or find some shade and let him sit down and drink some water. Here are some other tips to get your pooch cooled off:
You can help cool your dog down by dabbing him with wet towels, or otherwise getting his fur damp to simulate sweat. Avoid saturating the coat completely, just gently dampen it.
Get him to drink some water if he’s willing; but avoid forcing him to drink as it is a serious choking hazard.
Dab rubbing alcohol on the pads of his feet, the rapid evaporation of the alcohol can help bring down his internal temperature.
Never cover or confine a dog who is overheating
Never feed an overheated dog ice as this can reduce his temperature too quickly and induce shock
4. Plan accordingly
Remember that your dog is wearing a heavy fur coat, and that he can’t cool himself down as effectively as a human. If you plan to bring your dog on outdoor activities this summer such as a hike or a day at the beach be prepared for the special needs your dog will have in the heat. Bring a bowl and plenty of water for him, and plan to take the day slower and allow for breaks for your buddy to cool off. If your dog has thin fur or pale skin, it can also be a good idea to bring some sunscreen for his back and the top of his head. There are canine specific sunscreens on the market, and spray-on baby sunscreen can work well too.
5. Know when to get help
If your dog appears to be in distress, or doesn’t seem to be cooling down, contact an emergency veterinarian or animal hospital right away. If you have access to a rectalthermometer take your dog’s temperature. If it is between 103-106 degrees Fahrenheit, your dog is too hot and needs to cool down right away. If it is 106 or above, you need to seek emergency veterinary care.