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Heat Dangers For Dogs

Updated on August 3, 2016
Chief - American Bulldog/Pit Bull mix
Chief - American Bulldog/Pit Bull mix | Source
Karma - Mastiff
Karma - Mastiff | Source
Molly - American Bulldog
Molly - American Bulldog | Source

Hot Cars

While it seems obvious not to keep your dog in a hot car, you hear stories daily about people doing just that. Your car can reach 120 degrees in minutes and even if you park in the shade, it doesn’t necessarily stay that way. What you thought was a shady spot an hour ago can become full sun, turning your car into an oven. Heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death can happen within just minutes.

Heat stroke happens when the body temperature of your dog gets extremely high; this can lead to nervous system abnormalities. Symptoms to keep an eye out for are lethargy, weakness, seizures, collapse or coma. If anything seems out of the ordinary, contact your vet immediately.

The Beach

It might seem like a great idea to take your pooch to the beach to cool off, but this can be dangerous if you aren’t careful. Unless you can find a cool, shady spot it’s best to keep your dog at home. Sand gets extremely hot under the sun’s rays and this affects your dog’s ability to cool off.

If you do take your dog to the beach, be sure to pack lots of fresh drinking water. suggests at least one gallon each for you and your dog. Be sure to offer your dog frequent water breaks. Dogs don’t know that salt water is dangerous for them to drink. Excessive ingestion can lead to salt poisoning, also referred to as hypernatremia. Signs of salt poisoning can be vomiting and diarrhea, but neurologic symptoms can occur quickly, leading to severe brain swelling. Keep an eye out for signs of incoordination and/or seizures. Again, contact your vet immediately if you have any concerns about your dog’s symptoms or behaviors.

If your dog loves to swim or has wet feet for extended periods of time, keep in mind the longer they remain wet, the softer his pads become. Soft foot pads are vulnerable to hot sand and pavement and can develop severe burns or damage.

Dogs Do Perspire

Believe it or not, dogs perspire through their foot pads. It only makes sense, then, that the longer a dog is on hot sand or pavement, the more difficult it becomes for him to cool down. If you walk or run with your dog regularly, it’s a good idea in the hot summer months to do this during the early morning or early evening hours. Peak sun is between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and it’s best to keep your dog in the shade during this time.

If your dog does get overheated, try dampening his paws by dipping the pads in cool (not cold) water. According to, “You can even rub the paws with an alcohol wipe in a pinch, and the wipes are easy to carry on walks and hikes.” You should not, however, use alcohol if your dog has any wounds or burns on his pads.

Senior Dogs and Other Health Issues

Seniors, as well as overweight dogs, should be kept out of the heat at all costs. If your dog is a snub-nosed breed, such as a bulldog or Pekinese, or a dog with heart or lung disease, he should be kept indoors with air conditioning as much as possible.


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