Summertime Dog Maintenance
Dog Safety In High Heat
With summer in full swing and heat waves decimating records many pet owners are becoming increasingly concerned with the safety of their pets, and rightfully so.
Even rather temperate areas of the US such as the Pacific Northwest are experiencing temperatures in the 90s. These temperatures pose the risk of heat related illnesses in your pets which are far more common than you may think.
In this article we will be discussing:
- Prevention of heat related illness
- Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion/stroke
- What to do if your pet develops a heat related illness
- How to properly cool your dog down
- Safety tips for dog walking and playing
What is Heat Stroke/Exhaustion
When a dogs internal temperature reaches 107°F or 41°C a chemical reaction occurs that breaks down cells in your pets body, often resulting in death. Fortunately for you and your furry friend there are various easy and cost effective ways to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke from taking place which we will address later on in this article.
What's the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?
Heat Exhaustion is the precursor to heat stroke. Heat exhaustion occurs when you're not properly hydrated. In pets, ensuring proper hydration throughout the day is vitally important. Symptoms of heat exhaustion occur after prolonged physical activity in high temperatures without proper shelter or shade and little to no access to water.
Muscle tremors and seizures indicate progression from heat exhaustion to heat stroke. If you think your dog may be experiencing symptoms of heat stroke it is vital to get them veterinary care immediately.
Dogs That Are at an Increased Risk of Developing Heat Exhaustion/Stroke
Certain dogs are at a higher risk of developing heat related illnesses than other dogs, and extra care should be taken to prevent exposure to high temperatures. Some breads that may be at a higher risk of developing heat stroke include dogs with respiratory challenges such as:
- Shih Tzu
- Boston Terriers
- and Lhasa Apso Breeds
Other dogs that are at an increased risk include Heavy coated dogs such as the internet famous Akita (See image to the top right), overweight dogs and older dogs. An owner should also take care not to over exert smaller breeds who find it harder to cool themselves.
Puppies should be kept cool inside or in the shade at all times. Never allow them in direct sunlight when temperatures exceed 80 degrees.
Prevention of Heat Related Illness
There are numerous ways you can go about preventing heat related illness and discomfort in your dogs. I've included some of the easiest methods anyone can implement at a moments notice. As well as various tips on avoiding situations that may put your furry friend at unnecessary risk.
Don't Exercise Your Dog During The Hottest Parts of The Day
Seems like a no-brainer; taking your dog out for a walk at the park is best done in the morning while the air is still cool, or at night once the temperature has began to fall with the sun.
Temperature typically peaks around 3pm before it begins to fall. You should plan your dog walking schedule around the hottest parts of the day. If high temperatures can't be avoided than one should make an effort to bring water along on the walk, and allow your dog to rest in the shade often.
If walking your dog later on in the day, or as the sun begins to set, be sure to avoid pavement as it can take several hours for the temperature of the sidewalk to go down after the temperature begins to fall. A good measure is to take off your shoe and test the pavement for yourself. If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dogs.
Sunburns not only cause discomfort but the lack of sunscreen on a dog with a thin coat can increase their risk of heatstroke.
For dogs with thin coats it is recommended by the 'Canine Health Foundation' to apply waterproof baby sunscreen to your dogs ears, nose, back and on the tummy if your dog likes to sunbathe on his/her back.
Just like us, dogs can also develop skin Cancer just like us. Treat them as you would a child playing outside on a hot summers day.
Dogs Need Shade!
If you are going to leave your pet outside in the summer than be sure to provide them with shelter that they are willing to use. A dog house is no good if your dog doesn't want to use it!
Tying your dog to a tree with shade is fine as long as you frequently check on him/her to adjust for the shifting sunlight. Just as the sun moves, so will the shade. Be sure that your dog has access to shade throughout the day. Your dog should never be exposed to direct sunlight without access to shade and water!
If you have an automated water dispenser be sure to check it daily to make sure it's functional, and make sure any water bowls cannot be easily tipped over.
Kiddie Pools Help
Those small children's pools make for a cheap and indispensable tool for keeping your best friend cool throughout the day. Even a dog that is normally skittish around water may be willing to take a dive in a shallow pool if it's hot enough.
Though if you find your dog hesitant to partake, experts warn that you should never throw a dog in a pool as this may scare them away from future use. If your pool is too deep for your dog to stand up in than be sure that your dog can swim. Never leave an old or obese dog unsupervised in steep water as they may become fatigued and unable to get out of the pool on their own.
If the pool water has been treated with chemicals than be sure to give your pet a rinse with the hose after they are finished with their swim. Some chemicals used to treat pool water, such as chlorine, can cause your dogs skin to dry out leaving them even more vulnerable to sunlight.
Never, Ever, Leave Your Dog In The Car!
This should go without saying, but all to often dogs are forgotten in cars where they parish from temperatures in the hundreds. Even if the weather is 75 degrees outside a car can achieve temperatures of up to 100 degrees in as little as 10 minutes.
Please, do not leave your pet in the car.
Many bystanders are taking it upon themselves to rescue trapped dogs, so even if you leave the window down and turn the AC up you may wind up with a broken window and a missing dog.
How Long Can This NFL Player Tough It Out in a Hot Car?
How To Identify Heat Exhaustion/Stroke and what to do if it's too late to prevent.
Heat stroke is often fatal, do not assume your dog can recover on his or her own without veterinary care. If you believe your dog may have heat stroke consult your vet immediately, your dogs life may depend on it.
Symptoms of heat stroke
Heat stroke symptoms may not always be obvious as some symptoms may mimic typical behavior, so it's important to familiarize yourself with all of the symptoms of heat stroke.
Hyperthermia can be categorized as either fever or non-fever hyperthermias; heat stroke is a common form of the latter. Symptoms of both types include:
- Rapid Panting
- Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
- Increased body temperature - above 103° F (39° C)
- Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
- Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
- Irregular heart beats
- Stoppage of the heart and breathing (cardiopulmonary arrest)
- Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress (tachypnea)
- Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool
- Muscle tremors
- Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken movement (ataxia)
- Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened
If your dog experiences any of these symptoms you should consult with your veterinarian immediately. If your dog experiences any of the latter symptoms such as seizures, uncoordinated movement or unconsciousness than an emergency veterinarian visit is in order.
If your dog is displaying symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke follow these simple steps:
- Immediately move your dog to a cool location such as shady spot or an air conditioned building. Organ damage and death may occur when a dog's temperature rises to 109 degrees or higher.
- Check the dogs temperature using a rectal thermometer, and call your veterinarian if the temperature is above 105 degrees. Normal temperature for dogs range from around 100 and 102.5 degrees.
- If your dog is overheated but their temperature is not 105 degrees or higher, cool the dog by saturating his/her fur with cool water or immersing the dog in cool water to gradually lower the body temperature. (Avoid cold water baths as this may shock a dogs system.)
- Recheck the dogs temperature every few minuted until the temperature reaches 103 degrees and than halt the cool water treatments.
- Provide the dog access to water if s/he can drink on his or her own. Following recovery have a veterinarian examine the dog to be sure there are no complications.
That's all for now. Thank you for reading and be sure to leave feedback. There may be many grammatical errors in my writing. So if you see any than be sure to bring them up so I can fix them. I'm still learning ;)