Today is heat awareness day! (May 25th) Many of our dogs spend more time outside than we do, so it can be easy to think that they’re “used to it”. This may be true to an extent, but dogs can just as easily be affected by the elements as we can. Here are 4 tips to help you keep your pup happy & healthy during warmer months.
1. Hydration is Key
First and foremost, hydration is KEY! Whether you’re at the dog park, on a walk, or in your backyard, your dog needs frequent access to fresh water. Under normal circumstances, “dogs should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.” On hot days, water is lost due to extra drooling and panting. Purchasing a dog water bottle or dog travel bowl and carrying it with you is the easiest way to help your pooch stay hydrated if you all are out and about.
2. Know the Signs
Here at Jefferson Animal Hospital, we are passionate about client education because we know that prevention is the best kind of intervention. If you know the signs of overheating & heat stroke, you can better help prevent it.
Check for these signs to see if your dog is overheating:
- Excessive, heavy breathing/panting
- Dry or bright red gums
- Thick or excessive drool
- Wobbly legs
- Loss of attention
If one or more of the following apply, your dog may overheat easily:
- Senior (around 7 or 8 for many breeds)
- Brachycephalic (short-nosed): Some of these breeds are; Pug, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, & Mastiff.
- Thick Coat
- Out of Shape
- Underlying Disease or Condition
Know the signs, pay attention to your dog, and they’ll tell you what they need. If your dog wants to lay down and take a break, let them! It may force you to cut your run short or take an unwanted break, but it will prevent more serious health issues your pup could face!
3. In Case of Overheating
Dogs don’t cool off by sweating as humans do. They don’t have sweat glands like ours so they work hard to regulate body temperature by panting. You may find that you feel fine, but your dog seems to be very tired and hot.
If your dog is exhibiting the signs of overheating do whatever is possible in the following steps:
- Move to the most shaded area available
- Encourage your dog to lay down
- Use a damp towel or cloth. “Place your cool wet cloths on his neck, armpits, and between his hind legs, and you can also gently wet his ears and paw pads with cool water.”
- Offer water to drink
- DO NOT dump cold water on your dog. Rapid, extreme temperature changes are not helpful.
4. How to Stay Cool
If you live somewhere especially hot or if your dog overheats easily, consider doing your main outside play time in the morning or around dusk.
Watch out for hot pavement! Though dogs’ paws may be tougher than ours they can still be burned by hot pavement! If it’s hot outside don’t walk them solely on a sidewalk or pavement. Walk on grass or use booties for walks in more urban settings. For reference, “when the air temperature outisde is measured at 77 degrees, asphalt in the sun has been measured at 125 degrees, & jump to 86 or 87 and asphalt can sizzle your skin (or your pet’s paws) at 135 to 143 degrees!”
Never leave your pet in the car, even if you’re only going to be “a minute”! Not only is this illegal in many states, but your pet could start exhibiting symptoms of a heat stroke in less than 10 minutes!
Get wet! Even if your dog doesn’t enjoy baths, they may love playing in water outside. Consider getting a kiddie pool, using a sprinkler, or taking them to a body of water they can splash around or swim in.
In addition to the dog water bowl/bottle we mentioned before, you may want to think about purchasing these summertime items: pet sunscreen (Yes, some breeds can burn,) booties for walking on hot pavement, sunglasses to ease your dog’s eyes and keep them “cool”.
We’re confident if you follow these tips that you and your pooch can have a summer full of dog-friendly activities! If you live in the Louisville, KY area & have any further questions or concerns, you can reach us 24/7 at our Outer Loop location (502-966-4104) or Mon-Sat at our Fern Creek Location (502-499-6535).