Have you ever wondered how your dog copes with the heat on a scorching summer day? Unlike people, dogs cannot cool themselves by perspiring. Instead, they rely on a combination of panting and a temperature exchange process known as convection as a way to beat the heat.
During extreme temperature conditions, these built-in heat deterrents are not enough to keep your dog cool, leaving him susceptible to the onset of heat stroke. Sometimes referred to as sun stroke, this condition can cause serious, possibly fatal damage to your dog’s brain and internal organs.
What Are the Symptoms of Heat Stroke?
If your dog appears to be panting excessively during hot weather, it could be a warning sign of a heat stroke. Other common symptoms to look for include:
- Excessive drooling
- Bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
- Thick saliva
If these symptoms are present, it’s important to immediately remove your dog from the hot area. Place cool, wet towels under his front legs, on the back of his neck and under his groin area. Give him access to water, but don’t try to force him to drink if he’s unable to do so on his own — this could cause him to choke. Transport him to an animal hospital or vet’s office as quickly as possible. Even if he appears to be recovering, he could still suffer the lingering effects of dehydration.
Keep Your Dog Cool During the Hotter Times of the Year
The best way to reduce your dog’s risk of suffering a heat stroke is to keep him indoors, preferably in an air-conditioned environment, during periods of extreme heat. If you don’t have air conditioning, try placing ice inside freezer bags and wrap them in towels to give him a cool, comfortable place to lie down.
If you must keep your dog outside, give him access to shade and plenty of fresh, cool water. Check on him frequently to make sure he isn’t having trouble with the heat. Be especially vigilant if your dog is overweight or has a medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes. Don’t ever leave a dog inside a hot car. Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach over 100° F in a short period of time.
Avoid Exercising/Running Your Dog
If you have an active dog who loves to run and play, you’ll want to limit his activity during the heat. Avoid having him fetch balls or sticks. If you normally take him jogging with you, it’s a good idea to leave him at home when the temperature reaches the 80-85° F range.
If You’re Hot, Your Dog Probably Is, Too!
In general, if the heat is bothering you, it’s probably bothering your dog. Employing these common sense steps can keep your cherished pet out of harm’s way during those relentless “dog days” of summer!