However, there are many ways you can help your dog beat the heat.
Tips to cool down a pet in the heat:
Always supply your pet with fresh clean water and make sure the dish is out of the sun. You can put ice in to keep it cooler longer.
1. Take your dog swimming or hose them with water on hot days. Swimming with your dog is great exercise and can also provide relief from summer heat. Theoretically all dogs can swim, however, some breeds such as Bulldogs, Basset hounds and Pugs have more difficulty than others, so it’s important to know your dog’s physical ability, stamina, body shape, condition, and breathing ability. Fit your dog with a PFD (personal flotation device) if you are not sure about its swimming ability or if you plan on taking it boating.
2. Don’t take your pets to crowded summer events like parades, festivals, farmers markets, and carnivals. The heat, noise, crowds, and general excitement can be emotionally and physically draining for your pet, and this can result in anxiety
3. Walk your dog on grass or dirt to avoid burning its paws on hot pavement.
4. Groom your pet properly and ensure they are free of mats. If you shave your dog, be sure to leave about an inch of fur to
prevent sunburn as well as to protect from biting flies and mosquitoes.
5. Provide access to shade at all times.
6. Fur can provide some protection from the sun, but the bridge of the nose, ear tips, skin around the lips, and other areas that lack pigmentation are highly susceptible to the sun. There is
specially formulated sunscreen that can be used on pets depending on the location of the sensitive skin. Use care in picking the product as cats and dogs are prone to licking themselves and should not ingest most lotions.
7. Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows open, for any length of time. The number one cause of heat stroke in
dogs is being left in a hot locked car. It takes only a few minutes for the internal heat to increase forty degrees or more above the outside air temperature, especially in direct sunlight.
Heat Stroke, or hyperthermia, happens when a dog severely overheats. If the heat stroke hasn’t advanced too far (the dog doesn’t have a body temperature more than 104 degrees F) you can still help your dog recover.
Signs and symptoms include:
• Body temp is 104 degrees F or above
• Bloody diarrhea or vomit
• Depression, stupor (acting drunk), seizures or coma
• Increased heart rate
• Increased respiration
• Mucous membrane color that is redder than normal
• In severe cases lips begin to turn pale blue or gray
When Heat Stroke Occurs
• Get the dog out of the direct heat.
• Check for shock.
• Take the dog’s temperature. Normal temperature is 101 degrees F.
• Spray dog with cool water. If it is an outdoor hose run the hot water out of it first.
• Place water soaked towels on the dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen.
• Turn on a fan and point it at the dog.
• Apply rubbing alcohol on the dog’s foot pads to help it cool, but do not use large quantities. It can be toxic if ingested.
• Take the pet for veterinary treatment as soon as possible.
The goal is to decrease the body temperature to about 103 degrees F in the first 10 - 15 minutes and then stop the cooling process because the body temperature will continue to decrease and can easily plummet to a dangerous level. Once your dog’s body temperature has been regulated, you should still visit the veterinarian. Heat stroke can lead to other health issues such as:
• Abnormal heart rhythms
• Destruction to the digestive tract lining that can lead to bloody vomiting and/or diarrhea
• Kidney failure
• Neurological problems, including seizures and swelling of the brain
• Problems with blood clotting
• Respiratory arrest
Keep in mind that some dogs are more likely to overheat than others. Dogs that are most prone to heat stroke include young puppies, older dogs, overweight dogs, and dogs already sick or
recovering from illness or surgery. There are also dog breeds that are more prone to heat stroke. This is especially true of short-faced breeds and double-coated breeds, which are bred for cold climates.
Warm weather doesn’t have to be dangerous. If you are educated on the possibilities of heat stroke, mindful of the symptoms, and prepared, you and your pet will be able to safely enjoy the hottest days of the year.
By Sarah Zumhofe