13 Important Dog Heat Safety Tips For Summer
We asked a Vet About Heat Safety For Furry Friends
Short Nosed Breeds, Like Pugs, Are Extra Vulnerable to Heat
It is important to keep all pets safe during the hotter summer months. The summer heat is especially dangerous for certain breeds. I always worry about Kilo the Pug. He is pretty fit but he really can not take the heat. I had to stop in the shade, give him more water then carry him home last week on a walk, as we went mid-morning and it got warm fast.
Pugs and other flat-faced breeds have condensed nasal passageways. Dogs regulate their body temperature by panting. If a pug is left in the heat, it’s body could have trouble maintaining optimal internal temperature.
As dog parents, it is important to keep diligent watch over our best friends to make sure they are healthy and happy in sunnier months.
“Dogs dissipate heat to a limited degree compared to humans. They don’t really sweat so they have to pant and dissipate heat that way. It’s important to identify what breed you’re working with first. Certain breeds may have a higher risk of developing heat stress. Arctic breeds are a concern, as they have a thicker coat and get overheated quickly. Brachycephalic breeds or flat faces like Pugs, Bostons, Bull Dogs- are born with a less than ideal respiratory systems. They have tissues in their airway that can restrict airflow. They can’t pant as effectively so may be at a greater risk of heat stroke. “
Risks of Overheating
The risks of heat exposure include heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Could Your Dog Be Overheating? Symptoms of Heat Stress:
Symptoms your dog may show if they are experiencing negative effects of the heat:
- Panting heavily
- Dizziness, fatigue
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Stress and panic (including yelps)
- Wheezing and gasping
- Pale or bright gums
- Thick, viscous saliva
What NOT to Do if Your Dog has Heat Stress
If your dog is overheating and showing symptoms of heat stress, DO NOT submerge them in cold water.
When Kilo came back from our walk still panting a little (not in stress but clearly still warmer than usual), I thought about getting out his little pool or popping him in the bath to try to cool him off quickly. I asked Doctor Greenway about this:
“I’ve seen clients try to use cold water on dogs with heat stress. You can throw a little on their back but don’t put them in a cold bath. It’s what most people think they should do. The problem with that is one of the ways dogs dissipate heat is through vessels in their extremities, their legs, and those vessels dilate to dissipate heat. If you use cold water, those vessels will tighten up, and they lose the ability to dissipate heat. In fact, putting them in a cold water bath may make things worse. In one case, I saw a client who tried to take care of their dog for a few hours at home and had put the dog in cold water. The dog passed from heat stress right in front of me. Once you see your dog panting heavily and in distress, you want to take them to a vet right away as it can get worse. Time is of the essence.”
Do not ignore a dog’s unusual behaviour outside on very hot days as this could be heat confusion and a symptom of a more serious issue.
Do not overexert your dog. Greenway suggests
“If your dog is showing signs of heat stress like panting, then you can stop somewhere and rest in the shade. Wait until that panting slows down a bit before you move on. Re-evaluate if you even should be moving on.”
13 Heat Safety Tips That Could Save A Dog’s Life
- Always carry water and make it consistently available to your dog.
- Never leave your dog unattended out in the heat/sun.
- If your dog begins to show signs of heat stroke, call a vet ASAP. Do NOT throw them in a cold bath – see above.
- Don’t keep your dog in a car without proper air conditioning. Never leave a dog alone in the car – it can heat up to deadly temperatures surprisingly fast.
- Short-haired dogs can get sunburned, keep them in the shade as much as possible. Find a dog sunscreen that works for your pet.
- Keep outings and walks scheduled to cooler times of the day like early morning and late evening.
- Be aware of the ground temperature as pavement can get very hot and burn your dog’s sensitive feet.
- If your dog has a longer coat, consider giving them a short hair cut for the warmer months (but do not shave certain breeds- discuss with your vet or groomer).
- If you put your dog into the yard, make sure there are plenty of shady areas they can get to.
- Cooling collars or vests may be helpful.
- Take your dog out for activity, but do not overexert them in the heat.
- As often as possible, keep your dog in a ventilated and air conditioned space, like at home.
- If your dog is panting while out in the heat walking or exercising, stop and take a break in the shade.
How Your Vet Might Treat Heat Stress
Doctor Greenway let us know what kind of care your dog can expect from a vet and some parting advice.
“As a vet, I use sedatives known to calm them down and help them breathe easier. This can lower body temperature too and expand the blood vessels in their extremities. We give fluids. I can use cold water enemas, maybe ice packs in their armpits or in their thighs. This works as the blood vessels are larger and not used in the same way to dissipate heat.But this is a huge problem, and it’s surprising how rare it is for an owner to realize that it’s a serious issue. I worry that the dog will pass if they take it lightly. I’ve been successful in many cases, but I’ ll never forget the dog that passed in front of me due to the cold water bath. Their owners were loving people, and it seems to make sense to do it, but it was detrimental to the dog in that state and condition. It’s counter-intuitive sometimes.”
Dog Summer “Must-Haves” List For The Outdoors
- Cool clean water
- Water bowl
- Snacks and healthy treats for regulating blood sugar levels
- Dog shoes for hot pavement
- A towel or pad to sit on
- An umbrella for quick shade
- Cooling collar or vest
- Fan (portable battery operated ones are great!)
Find Doctor Greenway at West Hill Animal Clinic serving clients and their pets in the Scarborough, Rouge, Durham, and Toronto, Ontario area.