When summer officially kicks with the summer solstice, you’re already feeling the heat. Summer weather can be extremely dangerous to pets. Professionally it’s our job to keep them safe and healthy!
Taking our client’s dog out for summer jaunts in the middle of the sweltering heat can take its toll on their dog.
Dogs Do suffer from heat stroke
They can quickly come down with heat stroke but unlike people, dogs have very limited ability to cool off by sweating. There sweat glands on their foot pads only so the way for cooling down is panting and it can be insufficient to lower body temperature on a very hot day.
Signs of heat stroke include:
Heat Stroke or hyperthermia happens when a dog severely overheats and if the heat stroke hasn’t advanced to fair (more than 104 degrees F you can still help your dog recover).
- Signs or Symptoms:
- Body Temp is 104 degree F or above
- Bloody diarrhea or vomit
- Capillary refill time is too quick
- Depression, stupor (acting drunk), seizures or coma
- Increased heart rate
- Increased respiratory
- Mucous membrane color is redder then normal
- In severe cases lips begin to turn pale blue or gray.
- Seek vet care even after you have gotten the temperature of your pet down
Tips to cool down a pet in the heat:
- Always supply your pet with fresh clean water and make sure the dish is out of the sun. Put ice in to keep it cooler, longer. Keep water with you regardless not only for their well being put for yours.
- Take your dog swimming or hose them with water on hot days but not all dogs are born swimmers. Swimming with your dog is great exercise and can also provide relief from summer heat. Theoretically all dogs can swim, however, some breeds such as Bulldogs, Basset hounds and Pugs have more difficulty than others so it’s important to know its physical ability, stamina, body shape, condition and breathing ability. Fit your dog with a PFD (personal flotation device) if you are not sure about his swimming ability or if you plan on taking him boating. These are made for dogs to keep their head above water and have a handle on the back to make it easier to grab them out of the water. Never force the dog, take is slow, have reasonable expectations and have fun. Never let your pet drink the water in which it is swimming. Don’t forget to hose off your pet after swimming. If your are boating with your pet remember: dogs get seasick too so be prepared, make sure your pet has proper identification or is micro chipped in case it falls overboard and is picked up by another boater or swims to land, and have a plan for the dog to go to the bathroom.
- Walk dogs in the early morning or late hours of the day when the sun is least harsh. Carry water during these walks.
- As summer nears, it’s important to provide your pet with proper treatment for the prevention of heart-worms, ticks and fleas. Check your pets for ticks and fleas. Purchasing a pet-safe bug spray if they spend a great deal of time outdoors. Make sure your vet knows all of the products you are using as well as all the medication your pet is on to prevent any drug interactions. If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, also look into purchasing a pet-safe bug repellent to prevent annoying insect bites.
- Don’t take your pets to crowded summer events like parades, festivals, farmers markets, and carnivals. The heat, noise, crowds and the general excitement can be emotionally and physically draining for your pet and this can result in anxiety and stress.
- Walk your dog on grass or dirt to avoid burning their paws on hot pavement.
- Groom your pet properly and ensure they are free of mats. Do your home before shaving your pet. Many pet owners believe it’s best to shave their dogs and in some cases it’s a good a idea and other it is not. Leaving about an inch of fur can prevent sunburn, protect the pet from biting flies and mosquitoes.
- Provide access to shade at all times.
- The UV rays can also give your dog a nasty sunburn, peeling skin, painful inflammation and increase the risk of sun cancer. Fur can provide some protection from the sun. But the bridges of the nose, ear tips, skins around the lips and other area that lack pigmentation are highly susceptible to the sun. There is specially formulated sunscreen that can be used on pets depending on the location of the sensitive skin. Use care in picking the product as cats and dogs are prone to licking themselves and should not ingest most lotions.
- If you have a rabbit, keep the hutch in the shade, wild rabbits spend the hottest part of the day in their underground burrows where it’s cool. Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows open for any length of time. This is the No. 1 cause of heat stroke in dogs remains being left in a hot locked car, it takes only a few minutes for the internal heat to increase forty degrees or more above the outside air temperature… especially in direct sunlight.
A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 degrees; at 104 degrees and above, the dog is subject to heatstroke and can die in minutes. The most common cause of dogs dying from heatstroke is from being left in overheated cars.
What Can You Do If You Notice A Pet In Heat Stroke
- Get the dog out of the direct heat
- Check for Shock
- Take the dog’s temperature normal temperature is 101 degrees F
- Spray dog with cool water. If it is an outdoor hose run the hot water out of it first
- Place water soaked towels on the dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen
- Turn on a fan and point it at the dog
- Rub rubbing alcohol 705 on the dog’s foot pads to help cool down and do not use large quantities it can be toxic if ingested
- Take the pet in for veterinary treatment immediately
The goal is to decrease the body temperature to about 103 degrees F in the first 10 – 15 minutes and stop the cooling process because the body temperature will continue to decrease and can easily plummet to a dangerous level.
Even if you get the body temperature get the pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible other possible problems could arise if the condition is not treated:
Abnormal heart rhythms
- Destruction to the digestive tract lining that can lead to bloody vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Kidney failure
- Neurological problems, including seizures and swelling of the brain
- Problems with blood clotting
- Respiratory arrest
Dogs that are most prone to heatstroke include pups and older dogs; overweight dogs, and dogs already sick or recovering from illness or surgery, preexisting medical conditions.
The dog breeds that are most prone to heatstroke include short-faced breeds; the double-coated breeds; and dogs bred for cold climates.
Short face breeds:
These dogs have the “pushed-in faces” on relatively-broader heads. They have an elongated soft palate in the throat along with narrowed nostrils and includes: Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs, especially the English Bulldogs, Pekinese, Pugs, and Shih Tzus.
Double-Coated and Cold Climate Breeds include:
Akitas , American Eskimo Dogs, Anatolian Shepherds, Bearded Collies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Bouvier des Flandres Chow Chows, Collies, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Pyrenees, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Huskies, Irish Wolfhounds, Malamutes , Newfoundlands, Norwegian Elkhounds, Old English Sheepdogs, Pomerians, Samoyeds, Shelties, Shibu Inus
Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of “Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters” and “Disaster Plan: Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.” Joyce Rheal is also an active volunteer with the Emergency Management Agency.