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Hot Doggie

Tips to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat

The summer months bring high temperatures and our dogs don’t really know that excessive heat can hurt them. As pet parents it is our responsibility to keep them safe, to be able to recognize the signs of heat stroke, and to know what we to do to keep them cool and comfortable.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 101.5 F. They regulate their body temperature in different ways than humans. While humans sweat through their skin, dogs regulate body temperature primarily through panting along with some help from the sweat glands in their paws. Their coats also provide some insulation to keep them cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. But when their body temperature exceeds 104 F heat stroke can occur. In excessive temperatures your dog can experience heat exhaustion in addition to heat stroke. Let’s look at how to identify heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

What is Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke? Heat Exhaustion is characterized by fatigue and weakness and can include vomiting and diarrhea. Your dog’s temperature may still be normal and they may be dehydrated. When your dog’s condition elevates to Heat Stroke, they will also exhibit these signs:

  • Excessive panting

  • Disorientation or seizures

  • Elevated body temperature.

  • Dehydration (dry nose, sunken eyes, excessive panting)

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Reddened gums

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea,

  • Weakness or collapse

  • Seizures

Be especially careful with brachycephalic dogs like boxers, boston terriers, pugs and bulldogs that have short noses and flattened faces. They are more susceptible to heat related illnesses.

Very young dogs and older dogs, and obese or less fit dogs are also more susceptible to heat related illness.

Heat stroke in dogs is life threatening. It affects their nervous system and their organs. It can occur very quickly and is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Do’s and Don’ts

NEVER EVER leave your dog in the car alone, even in cooler temperatures. This is the most common cause of heat stroke in dogs. Interior car temperatures can increase rapidly and can easily reach temperatures well above 100 F.

Use caution when exercising your dog on hot days. Give them short walks and walk them in the early morning and evenings when temperatures are generally cooler. Take along fresh water on your walks. There are a variety of easy-to-carry water bottles with bowls available. It's also a good idea to check the pavement and be sure it is not too hot for your dog's paws. Place the bare palm of your hand on the ground for a few seconds. You can consider using booties or a salve on their paws to protect them from the heat like Musher’s Secret. If it's too hot to keep your hand, there then it's too hot for your dog's paws.

Always be sure your dog has fresh water available and accessible wherever they are.

Use a cooling collar, bandana, or a cooling vest on your dog when you take them for a walk or if they spend any time outdoors when it is hot. I use the GF Dog Ice Band which is very easy to use and secures with Velcro. The only drawback is that it can sometimes retain an odor.

You can also get a cooling vest or cooling vest harness for your dog. (Image courtesy Amazon)

Another alternative is the adjustable cooling collar with recyclable ice packs that you can cool in the freezer and then insert into the collar. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like a good alternative to the cooling bandana. (Images courtesy Amazon)

Using a cooling pad is another great idea. This Green Pet Shop cooling pad is pressure activated, so its starts cooling as soon as your dog hits the mat. I have one for my dog and it works great. (Image courtesy Chewy)

How to treat Heat Stroke

If your dog exhibits any signs of heat stroke, do these things and get them to a veterinarian immediately:

Pick up your dog and take them to a shady cooler area that is well ventilated.

Do not immerse your dog in water, but rather sponge them down or use a spray bottle with cool NOT cold water especially on their underside or belly.

Use a fan to blow cool air on them.

Take your dog to the vet IMMEDIATELY. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.

Heat Stroke can be life threatening for your dog. Prevention is the best medicine, so please take the necessary precautions to keep your doggie safe and comfortable in hot and extreme temperatures.

Check out these articles for more information:

I received no remuneration for any products mentioned in this blog. Use of these products is at your own discretion and we are not responsible for any adverse effects of using any of these products.

© Jill L. Newmark, Zenn Doggie Massage 2024

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