Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Summer Heat
It’s almost Memorial Day and that means summer is back! It’s time to get outside and enjoy the weather with our furry best friends. That means it’s also time to review the basics of keeping our dogs safe from the heat.
First, some basics.
*Humans perspire in the heat and that helps greatly to cool our bodies. Dogs can’t perspire. They pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs. It’s less efficient than perspiration and high humidity makes it even worse. If your dog is panting excessively in the heat, he/she is too hot and needs your help.
*Dogs with short noses are prone to difficulty breathing, so be particularly careful with them on hot days.
*Dogs with white ears are more susceptible to skin cancer, so it’s important they avoid prolonged ultraviolet exposure.
*Puppies and senior dogs are especially susceptible to heat stroke, as are dogs who are overweight and those who have heart or respiratory diseases.
Limit exercise on hot days.
*It’s better for you and for your dog to exercise in the early morning or evening during the hot summer months.
*Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your dog’s paws. If you’re jogging or walking in the summer, grass or unpaved paths and trails are a much better option.
*Keep your dog well hydrated. This pretty much goes without saying. In situations where you need more water, so does your dog.
Heat stroke is very serious.
Heat stroke can cause brain damage, organ failure, and can be fatal. Warning signs to look for include panting, rapid or irregular heartbeat, seizures, and unconsciousness. If you live in a hot, humid part of the country, it’s a good idea to keep a thermometer handy. Your dog’s temperature should not be over 103o. If it exceeds 104o-106o, your dog is experiencing heat stroke, and you need to take action right away.
*Move your dog into the shade or indoors to an air-conditioned room.
*Make sure he/she has plenty of fresh, cool water to drink.
*Apply cold towels or cool water to his/her chest, neck, and head.
*Get your best friend to a veterinarian as soon as you can.
And finally, this no-brainer again.
We’ve all gotten into our car on a hot day and nearly burned our hands on a blistering steering wheel, but most of us don’t realize how quickly that happens. For example, when the outside temperature is 80o, the interior of your car warms up surprisingly fast.
10 minutes ———– 99o
20 minutes ———– 109o
30 minutes ———–114o
60 minutes ———– 123o
That’s just at 80o. On a hot day, the interior of your car can reach temperatures in excess of 140o! If your dog is very young or very old, or prone to heat-related distress for any other reason, this can create a very dangerous situation. It can potentially even worsen an underlying condition and present a problem later in life. And remember, your dog doesn’t understand what’s going on like you do. She only knows she’s trapped in a very bad situation and may panic. That’s just going to make a bad situation worse.
A little knowledge and some common sense go a long way if you just stay aware. Stay cool and safe out there this season.
Wet Noses wishes all of you and all of your dogs a safe and happy Memorial Day and a great summer.