In the summer months, it’s more important to monitor your and prevent your dog from overheating. But how can you tell if your dog is too hot? And what should you do if you think your dog is in danger? How can you prevent your dog from suffering heat stroke or hyperthermia during these dog days of summer? We’ll give you some practical tips on what to look for and what to do to ensure your best friend stays cool and healthy.
How to Know When Your Dog is Overheating
Dogs have much higher body temperatures than humans, and they don’t perspire the same way we do. As a result, they can begin to overheat in just a few minutes if left outside or in a car. Dogs will start panting heavily, drooling copiously, or showing excessive signs of thirst as their bodies lose fluid in the heat. Their gums might also be tinged with bright red or pink coloration. They may pull their lips all the way back and show their teeth to expose more of the surface area of their mouth, which allows them greater heat exchange. If your dog starts trembling visibly and having trouble breathing (especially if they’re not used to being out of the house), don’t wait! Call your veterinarian immediately. If any other symptoms appear, like seizures or blue lips/nose, these could indicate severe overheating. The best way to know whether your dog is overheating or not, of course, is to take their temperature. However, this isn’t always possible for most dog owners. Your best option is to always err on the side of caution–if you think your dog might be overheating, take immediate measures to cool them down.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Overheating
The best way you can protect your dog against heat stroke and hyperthermia in the summertime is by being proactive, smart, and by exercising common sense. Human thermoregulation systems are more efficient than their canine counterparts’. This is true for several reasons, but it boils down to our lack of body hair and ability to sweat through our skin. Dogs have a comparative disadvantage in both areas. That means if you’re hot, your dog is probably hotter; if you’re uncomfortable, then your dog is most likely very uncomfortable. Most heat mitigation strategies in summer focus on hydration and shade. Your dog needs access to FRESH, cool water every few hours in summer, whether they’re indoors or outdoors (a self-filling automatic waterer makes this a snap).
Your dog also needs access to plenty of shady places to cool down, like under a tree or in an airy room with no direct sunlight shining inside. Certain breeds are more susceptible to overheating—a husky is more at risk than a chihuahua, for example. To help your furry friend stay hydrated during the hottest months, wet their kibble and give them fresh water every few hours. If they’re spending time outside on particularly hot days (which isn’t always a good idea), take frequent breaks for shade and water until they cool down. They may not always know when to quit, so it’s up to you to protect your dog from overheating. Veterinarians agree, dogs shouldn’t be left alone in cars under any circumstance.
How to Take Care of Your Dog If They’re Overheating
If your dog is in danger, always call your vet immediately! However, if you can’t get an appointment right away, or it’s too late at night (or both), try the following:
- Place a cold towel under their armpits (but not on the stomach).
- Try placing ice wrapped in a wet cloth on their neck area.
- Offer plenty of fresh water but avoid anything with sugar or alcohol (if your dog enjoys ice in their water, adding some may entice them to drink).
Allowing your dog to rest inside is also very helpful during these times. In a heat wave, dogs appreciate air conditioning as much as we do. Make sure to contact your vet to schedule a checkup as soon after the incident as possible. Make sure you also know the location of your nearest 24-hour animal hospital, in case of an emergency.
Let Us Know at K9U How we Can Help
At K9U, we care about your pets like they’re members of our extended family. We’re always here to offer advice on the best strategies to make your dog comfortable, so you’re free to enjoy all the perks of summer together. Going on vacation? Check out our safe and comfortable boarding options here.