Taking Care of Your Dog in Hot Weather
With the hot weather, dogs can succumb to heat stroke and heat exhaustion, so it’s important to monitor your dog and take precautions.
Dogs do not have sweat glands all over their body as we do – they only have a few on their feet and nose. So they need to regulate their own body temperature to keep it within a safe range – 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit – and they do this by panting and using their respiratory system. As a dog pants, the air is cooled as saliva and moisture on the tongue evaporates. Hence, the blood in the tongue is cooled and circulated throughout the body as air passes over the tongue.
When your dog is panting, he is hot! Especially for short-nosed dogs (called Brachycephalic) it is more difficult for them to cool the air before it reaches their lungs. This is why exercising your dog in the heat of the day is very dangerous and dogs can suffer heatstroke as a result of physical activity in warm, hot or humid weather. A dog running with his/her owner will keep on going till it gets exhausted. It is up to us to limit activity and take care that our dogs do not overexert themselves in hot weather. Physical activity should be kept to a minimum and done early in the morning. Dogs can also burn the pads on their feet from hot streets or sand.
Never leave your dog in a car unless the air conditioning is on. Without it, cars are like an inferno. This is a terrible way for a dog to die – in a hot car!
Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, problems breathing, weakness, twitching muscles, lack of coordination, vomiting, convulsions, and collapse.
What to do
Always carry water and cool your dog off by:
• Soaking him down with cool water, not ice water.
• Having him drink water.
• Wrapping him in wet towels.
• Getting him to a shaded area.
• Fanning him.
Heat stroke is an emergency. GET TO A VET FOR TREATMENT IMMEDIATELY!
Richard Fischhof, M.Ed., CPDT-KA, CTC
Certified Professional Dog Trainer