Take Summer Heat Precautions for Dogs

Here's what to do if your furry pooch becomes overheated this summer!

With temperatures soaring toward record highs this week, many people are worried about how their furry pooches will tolerate the heat. Here are some tips to keep your best friend from overheating:

Never leave them in the car in the heat!

Temperatures inside a locked car can rise 20°F in just 10 minutes! A recent study from Stanford University Medical Center found the temperature within a vehicle may increase by an average of 40°F within one hour regardless of outside temperature. What’s worse is the temperatures continue to rise with continued time. Cracking the windows won’t cut it. Leave your pet at home, or make the extra trip to drop them off at home before running those errands.

Dogs love air conditioning!

Let’s face facts—animals appreciate the indoor air conditioning just as much as we do. Consider bringing your pet in during the hottest part of the day. This is especially important if you own a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed, such as a pug, Boston terrier or bulldog. These dogs are just not capable of cooling themselves in heat and should never be left outside in warm temperatures.

If you must leave your dog outside, make sure they have access to plenty of shade and a large quantity of water. Some pets even enjoy laying in a kiddie pool of water (just make sure to discard daily to avoid attracting mosquitoes
at dusk).

What to do if your pet becomes overheated

Dogs that become overheated often act restless, pant excessively, and drool. Check their gum color; they should be a nice pink color, but a problem arises when the gums turn blueish or purple in color, or a bright red color due to lack of oxygen.

Start by removing your pet from the environment and get them to a cool spot, with a fan blowing on the pet. If possible, take a temperature rectally. A dog’s normal temperature is between 101 to 102.5°F. Temperatures above 105°F are a true emergency, and you should call your veterinarian or immediately take your pet to an area emergency veterinary clinic.

To cool the pet, don’t use ice or very cold water; you could actually delay their
internal cooling by causing the surface blood vessels to shrink—this forms an insulating layer. The best plan is to use tap water to soak towels and place these over the back of the neck, in the pet’s armpit and groin areas. You can also wet the paws and ear flaps, and then direct a fan on these areas to help speed evaporative cooling. Don’t force them to drink water, but have it available if they want to do so on their own.

As always, if you’re unsure, call your veterinarian for the best advice for your
individual pet. Keep your pet indoors or in a cool shaded area when possible,
and make sure they have plenty of cold water available to drink.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jo Beck July 03, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Dr. DeWilde, Thanks so much for the article on how to protect pets from the heat. I just cringe when I walk by a parked car with dogs in it! What are those people thinking?


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