The summer months can be uncomfortable—even dangerous—for pets and people. It's difficult enough simply to cope with rising temperatures, let alone thick humidity. Overheating in dogs is not something to take lightly. As the weather heats up, it's important to remain aware of how the heat affects your pup. Heat exhaustion in dogs can lead to serious and potentially fatal conditions such as heat stroke and cardiac arrest.
To help keep your dog safe and cool during the summer, here is the lowdown on signs that he's overheating and how to prevent it: hint, if it's too hot for you to sit outside it's too hot from them. Water and shade are as important for dogs as it is for us.
NEVER leave your pets in a parked car. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees.Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.
Humidity will affect your dog as much as temperature. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.
Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing.
Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws, if it's to hot for you to walk on it's too hot for them to walk on, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.
Any time your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don't obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.
Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.
At the first sign of overheating, immediately take action to cool down your dog. Utilize the following steps to treat heat exhaustion in dogs: