Keeping It Cool: Surviving the Dog Days of Summer
Ah, summer. It’s the perfect time to relax outdoors with family and friends. Of course our pets like to be outside wherever we are, but remember that it might be too hot our furry friends on some days – especially in the afternoon sun.
Can dogs sweat?
Unfortunately, no, dogs don’t sweat like we do. They eliminate heat by panting, and experience minimal heat dissipation through the skin. The one area where dogs do have sweat glands is in their paw pads, which is why you may notice their feet seem damp at times. But sometimes panting and sweaty paws aren’t enough to overcome the heat, so their body temperatures rise, which can lead to overheating – a dangerous health risk.
Know the signs
If your dog is showing any of the following signs, it’s important to stop the activity you are doing and provide immediate care:
- Excessive panting
- Very red, grey or purple gums
- Walking like they are seasick, poor balance (ataxia)
- Lack of urine or dark urine
- Rapid pulse
What you can do to help
If your dog is showing early signs of overheating:
- Move to a cooler, shaded area or inside if possible
- Wet your dog’s body. (Be sure not to use freezing cold water or ice as they can go into shock.) Continuous cool water (like with a hose) is the most effective cooling technique.
- With colder water, wet your dogs paws, ears, and inner legs.
- Even after your dog seems to have recovered, it’s best to be safe, cease activities, and bring them indoors.
- Consider following up with your vet (at least a call). If symptoms persist, seek emergency care at your vet or animal hospital.
Other options that help
If your pet tends to overheat easily, consider purchasing a cooling vest and cooling pad, so you can cool them quickly whenever you see the signs noted above. Keeping the dog’s hair/fur groomed shorter in the summer can also help a lot (with the exception of double coated dogs).
Remember – it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re concerned that your pet is having a true heat-related emergency – loss of consciousness, or rapid, shallow breathing – don’t delay, take your dog to your vet immediately or to the nearest animal hospital.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these dog health summer tips. Stay safe friends! Enjoy your summer but keep the backyard hose close when you need it.