5 Tips On How To Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer

on July 17, 2009
Posted in Dogs

The ‘dog days of summer’ are finally here and because of the beautiful sunshine your dog is spending more time outside than he has all year!

However, along with that sunshine comes high temperatures which can lead to very specific health hazards for your dog. Heat stroke, heat exhaustion and even sunburn can afflict any dog that spends time outdoors.

There are quite a few things that you can do to help ensure your dog’s wellbeing this summer.

Prevent Heat Stroke

When your dog is unable to rid himself of any unnecessary heat from his body, his internal temperature will rise. This increase in temperature can affect your dog’s internal organs and lead to massive damage. Left untreated, heat stroke can lead to the death of your dog.

However, even though there are quite a few different symptoms of heat stroke, they are easy to notice. Look out for increased panting or breathing that sounds more desperate than regular breathing, a fast pulse rate, and bright red gums. Even their overall appearance should tell you that your dog is suffering from heat stroke. Remember that if you do not treat your dog immediately for heat stroke it can lead to your dog going into shock or to even loose consciousness.

This is especially true of puppies and senior dogs. Immediately move your dog to cooler area with good ventilation. If this is not possible you can also try soaking your pet in cold water, not ice cold though, or gently spraying him with cool water from a hose pipe or spray bottle. However, once your dog’s temperature drops back down to 103 degrees Fahrenheit, you should remove your dog from the cold water as the risk of hypothermia increases. The cooling process is pretty fast, so be sure to constantly monitor your dog at all times.

As soon as you feel that your dog has become stabilized, you should immediately take him to a veterinary clinic. There are many hidden side effects of heat stroke, like brain damage and dehydration and only a veterinarian can help you with those ailments.

Protect Your Dog From Sunburn

Most dog owners liberally apply sun block on their hands, arms and face but do not even think about doing the same for their dog! Dogs are quite susceptible to sun burn, especially dogs that have light coats and short hair. Common places to get sun burnt are the tips of the ears and nose as well as the belly, groin and underside of the legs.

Remember to always use a sunscreen that has been specifically designed for use on dogs and apply it every time your dog goes out in the sun. Do not place any sunscreen on his belly or legs as he will be able to lick it off.

Turn On The Water

Since most dogs do not have an innate ability to cool themselves it is up to you as their care givers to make sure that they have continual access to cool water during the summertime. Bear in mind that a temperature of 100 – 102 degrees is perfectly normal for a dog and that they can usually release excess heat via sweat glands in their nose and paws; any temperature higher than 102 means that your dog is in danger of suffering from heat exhaustion.

The easiest, and fastest, way for your dog to cool down is to drink plenty of cool, fresh water. Therefore, make sure your dog has constant access to fresh drinking water. If you are taking your dog for a hike, remember to bring a bottle of water just for your dog to drink. If your dog is going to spend most of his time outside, then perhaps purchasing a water bowl that you attach to your garden hose and that automatically keeps the bowl filled with water might be a great option.

Keep Your Dog Out Of The Car

Under no circumstances should you leave your pet unattended in your car at any time and, in fact, it is against the law in most States in the USA! During the hot summer months, the temperature inside your car can increase by nearly 40 degrees in just one hour, with 80% of that happening within the first half an hour. Simply put, if the temperature outside the car is 85 degrees, then the temperature inside the car (even with the windows cracked) can quickly reach 102 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

Limit Your Dog’s Activity

Try to avoid your dog running around outside when the sun is at its highest. Also switch to morning or evening runs and walks with your dog to avoid prolonged sun and heat exposure during the daytime.

Photo Credit: Sister72

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Read also: Phew! Why Do Your Dog’s Ears Smell So Bad?

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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