With the record-breaking heat that most of us are experiencing this summer, it can be very dangerous for pets to be outdoors for prolonged periods of time. If at possible, you should limit the amount of time your dog is this heat at any given moment. When your pet is outside, you will still need to take precautionary measures to ensure that they don’t suffer a heat stroke. Some people make a very costly mistake assuming because dogs are animals that they can withstand the elements of cold and heat throughout the year. Because of this misconception, countless animals die unnecessarily each year. I have the unfortunate experience of watching a gorgeous boxer suffer a heat stroke this past week. The heat stroke caused so much brain damage that the animal had to be euthanized. This all could have been avoided by taking a few precautionary measures.
Create the Opportunity for Water Play
Keeping your dog wet while they are out in the heat is a good way to keep them cool while allowing them to get their activity time in. If you have a small plastic pool that kids play in, fill it up with water and let the dogs go for it. You will not have to do much coaxing once the dogs get their first experience. They will automatically run to the pool when they feel themselves getting to hot.
If you don’t have a pool, hose them down with a water hose every 15 minutes or so.
Make Sure they are Hydrated
Dogs can sweat profusely when overheated, causing them to get dehydrated, which can increase the risk of suffering a heat stroke. Keeping your dog hydrated will also lessen the occurrence of fatigue onset, which can also be problematic during to the hotter months. You are probably wondering if dogs sweat, why doesn’t that serve as a cooling system as it does for humans. The truth is that dogs only have a few sweat glands that are located in their paw pads. The other way that they cool down is through panting. So if your dog is panting excessively, it is a good sign that they might be overheating.
Dogs Who Are At Risk
Any dogs can suffer a heat stroke if they are exposed to extreme heat for a long period of time, but older dogs, puppies, and dogs that are overweight are more at risk for suffering a heat stroke.
Following are some additional warning signs that will help recognize if your dog is overheated
- Stumbling around and behaving as if they are dizzy
- Erratic breathing patterns and excessive panting
- Less responsive to commands that they would normally be
- Their gums turn pale, bright red, or bluish in color
- Diarrhea and vomiting (especially if blood is involved)
What You Should Do If You Suspect Your Dog is Suffering a Stroke
Immediately move the dog out of the sun completely. Try to relocate to an air-conditioned area or at least move them into a shaded area. Immediately begin the process of cooling them down, which will likely mean wetting them down. Never underestimate the potential damage that even a minor stroke can cause. If you suspect that your dog is suffering a stroke or has already suffered a stroke, get them to the veterinarian immediately. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
When you are wetting your dog down, you want to spray them with cool water, but do not use cold water. An alternative to spraying the dog is placing a cool soaked towel over their entire body. Once you get the dog in the car, turn on the air-conditioner or roll down the windows so that you create a cool breeze. The reason that you do not want to use cold water is that ice or cold water can send your pet into shock, which will actually lead to heat retention in the body.
Remember, you can never be too cautious when protecting your dog from extreme heat. While most breeds are extremely resilient, there is only so much heat exposure any animal can take before they succumb to it. By taking the few precautions, you and your animal can enjoy the summer with suffering irreversal damage due to heat.