Summers here and we are outside playing with our dogs more. Being prepared is key to the health and happiness of your dogs.
Being prepared before you go out hiking, to the dog park, throwing the ball in your own backyard on a hot day and knowing the signs of heat exhaustion can save your dogs life. Dogs do not regulate their playtime, so it’s our responsibility to monitor how much time they spend playing on a hot day. Dogs don’t sweat, like we do. They pant to release heat from their body. Their normal body temperature is between 101 and 102 and they can overheat quickly, way before we notice the signs. It can be dangerous, even fatal, for dogs. Here are some simple things that you can do to protect your dog from the dangers of heat exhaustion.
Preventing Heat Exhaustion
In most cases, heat exhaustion is preventable.
Always keep water in your car and bring fresh water with you on your walks or hikes and bring enough for both of you. Collapsable water bowls that you can hook to your belt or fanny pack with a carabiner clip work great, when walking. Don’t walk when it’s over 90 degrees and for many dogs, it might be over 80 is too hot for them. Every dog tolerates the heat differently.
Never leave your dog unattended in your car, even if the temperature is mild. In a locked car the temperature can climb rapidly to 110 or more. A cracked window will not prevent your dog from overheating and suffering heat stroke. You may have parked in the shade when you left your dog yet the sun shifts and an unexpected delay could endanger your dog’s life!
Dog’s should have access to shade and fresh water while outdoors. If the temperature is very warm, outdoor access should be limited to short periods of time and then the dog should be housed indoors. If they need to be outside, a baby pool filled just enough for their feet to get wet and they can lay down is a great option for necessary, limited outdoor exposure.
If your dog is working in warm weather ,be prepared to offer him water at regular intervals and understand that he may drink more water than usual under these circumstances, so have plenty and offer it often.
Use caution with dogs that are obese, have respiratory difficulties, are geriatric or are otherwise unhealthy. These dogs may be more prone to heat exhaustion than other dogs.
In addition, short-nosed breeds such as Pugs, Boxers and Bull Dogs, etc. are at higher risk of heat exhaustion that other breeds.
Recognize the Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Dogs suffering from heat stroke will normally exhibit any or all of the following:
Panting with tongue becoming larger and thicker often times unable to fit in the mouth.
Increased respiratory rate
Increased heart rate
As the symptoms progress and go unnoticed, the dog’s body temperature increases and signs become even more serious.
Tongue and gum color may become brick red, then purple or blue (cyanosis)
Treatment of Heat Exhaustion
If you believe your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion, seek veterinary care immediately. When they are at this stage they will often times refuse water for drinking however it’s important to begin to cool their body down by putting tepid water directly on them and on their feet. Don’t use cold water as it can worsen the situation. Wet a towel and lay it over their body and get help right away. Wetting their paws helps too.
Here’s to wishing you happy and safe times this summer.
About the author: Jill Breitner, is a professional dog trainer, award winning author, writing articles for Dogster, The Whole Dog Journal, Animal Wellness and her own blog. She is also a dog body language expert, loving and living her life on the west coast of the USA. She is the author of Dog Decoder, a smartphone app about dog body language recommended and used by veterinarians, shelters, trainers, educators and guardians worldwide. It’s available in iTunes and Google play. Jill, is Fear Free Certified and has been teaching gentle handling/basic husbandry skills to clients dogs for 40 years. She helps you to be your pets advocate for a happier and stress free life. She also does online dog training, worldwide. Join Jill on her Dog Decoder Facebook page