So the summer is here and it’s a great time for you and your dog to explore the world around you. But have you ever wondered how the sun could effect your pooch? In this post we look at dog care during summer time and we talk about helping your dog beat summer heat when you are out on your doggy walks!
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
Just like humans, a dog’s body has unique ways of regulating temperature. Unfortunately, those safety measures aren’t full proof, and can fail. Learn below how to both avoid these dangers, and recognise the symptoms if they do occur!
Hyperthermia: Dangerous elevation in body temperature; above 39° C (103° F) in dogs is considered abnormal!
Heat Stroke: Non-fever hyperthermia occurring when a dog’s body can’t accommodate for excessive heat or extreme body temperatures. Temperatures above 106* Fahrenheit can lead to multiple organ failure, and possibly death.
- Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
- Increased body temperature – above 39° C (103° F)
- Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
- Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
Older dogs tend to have higher difficulty regulating their body temperatures, and might need special attention! Watch out for signs they are having trouble breathing.
What Causes Heat Stroke?
Excessively high environmental temperatures or humidity can be one factor leading to high body temperatures and heat stroke. Whether it be exposure to hot outdoor temperatures, a hot enclosure (like a car), or another heated room can cause your dog’s body temperature to rise.
An upper respiratory or airway disease that inhibits your dog’s ability to breathe can cause body temperatures to rise. Your dog’s upper airway includes his nose, nasal passages, throat (larynx) and windpipe (trachea).
Although is is less common, some poisons (like strychnine and slug and snail bait) can lead to seizures that cause an unusual increase in body heat.
Exercise and Hiking Tips
Excessive exercise can cause your dogs to overheat, just like humans. Sometimes our pets are having such a good time outside, they aren’t paying attention to the heat. Or maybe we might force them to take walks/hikes that are too long and strenuous.
If hiking is your idea, it’s a good idea to plan your route either during the mornings or evenings when it’s cooler outside. Always keep plenty of fresh water available, and consider bringing a rubber water bottle or travel bowl to help keep your dog hydrated – this is important to helping your dog beat summer heat!
- Keep plenty of fresh water available at all times for your dogs. Make sure the water is fresh, cool, and preferably in shaded areas so it doesn’t heat up. Remember, the more a dog perspires through panting, the more water will be lost and need to be replaced.
Avoid the Muzzle!
Never muzzle your dog for long on a hot day! Dogs don’t sweat through their skin quite like humans do, but exchange heat and perspire mainly through panting. However, if they can’t open their mouths to pant because a muzzle is holding them shut, they will be much less able to control their body heat! If you are worried about your dog biting or barking excessively, simply keep him in doors where it is cool.
Doggy Boots and Hot Surfaces
It can be pretty easy to forget that our pets are always barefoot, their feet constantly forced to touch the ground with every step unlike us. During the summer months, both pavement and sand can get pretty hot, sometimes even to the point of burning our skin! If our skin can’t stand up to this heat, why should our dogs be any different?
After all, both early dogs and wolves’ paws began evolving tens of thousands (hundreds, in the case of the first wolves) of years ago in northern areas of the world- long before man made pavement existed. Don’t force your dog to walk on scalding surfaces!
Thankfully, dog ‘boots’ are becoming more and more popular and easy to find! Not only do they protect your dog’s paws from the heat, dog boots act like a bandage for injuries, help provide traction on slippery surfaces, and are popular among long distance dog mushers to protect from sharp ice!
- Little Known Fact: Though they don’t have sweat glands on the surface of their skin like we humans do, dogs do sweat a little bit on the surfaces of their paw pads. Believe it or not, you might actually see your dog leave behind ‘sweat prints’ if you pay attention! Though dog boots offer great protection, they also limit this sweating function to a small degree.
Never Leave your Dog Alone in a Hot Car!
Even if it doesn’t seem that hot outside, cars have a fantastic way of trapping in sunlight and heating up quickly. Countless dogs have overheated because their negligent owners left them alone in the car.
- Little Known Fact: Unlike what you may have seen on television, today’s car windows are made of two tough sheets of glass stuck together by an inner adhesive, designed to resist shattering during the case of an accident and extremely hard to break intentionally. A 200 pound man could swing a heavy metal sledge hammer and not break through his car windows right away. You would have a near impossible time breaking these windows to save a trapped dog!
Summer Grooming Tips for Double Coated Dogs
Less hair and shorter fur means your dog will always be cooler, right? This only makes sense to many pet owners. At least, that would be true if our dogs were humans and not dogs.
Though the first dogs evolved to tolerate harsh northern climates and extreme cold, both Alaska and Northern Russia can have some pretty hot summers too. Mother Nature didn’t forget the fact, giving our dogs some pretty unique ways to protect themselves from the heat. Essentially, their coats keep them warm in the winter, but also cool during the summer.
Your double coated dog of course has two different types of fur- one that sheds, and one that never sheds at all. Your dog’s topcoat is actually made up of tougher guard hairs that never shed, called ‘guard hairs’. They also have a denser undercoat that does shed. These two coats work together to trap in cool air close to the skin, protect from insect bites, and block the sun’s harmful rays. Their topcoat actually gives them great insulation from the heat.
What can happen if I shave my dog?
Your dog will already naturally shed the fur he’s meant to when he should, but isn’t supposed to lose any of that topcoat. When you shave your double coated dog, you are going to cut that topcoat first- the fur that should never be cut. Now your dog has lost his ability to trap in cool air, protection from insects, and protection from the sun. To make matters worse, your dog’s topcoat may never grow back like it should, causing irreparable damage to your dog’s coat for the rest of his life.
How to Cool Down a Dog That is Overheating
Two great ways on helping your dog beat summer heat:
- Offering a bathing pool for your dog to cool off in is a fantastic idea! It doesn’t need to be deep; a few inches will do just fine. Most dogs will love the cool water, and it will help keep their body temperatures down.
- Give them cooling dog treats like ice cubes and keep them in the shade. Most dogs will love the cool water, which will also help keep their body temperatures down.
Finally, a Quick Overview…
- Look out for the signs of heat stroke in your doggy.
- Older dogs tend to have higher difficulty regulating their body temperatures.
- Plan your walks in the morning or evening, avoiding the hottest part of the day.
- Keep plenty of fresh water available at all times for your dogs and carry a water bottle.
- Avoid using a muzzle.
- Never leave your dog along in the car.
- Offering a bathing pool for your dog to cool off in is a fantastic idea, try to keep your doggy pool in the shade.
- If you can’t offer air conditioning for your dog, offer a fan they can sit by if they want.
We hope that you have enjoyed this article on helping your dog beat summer heat.
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