One part of dog ownership that unfortunately gets overlooked far too often is the need to keep them cool and hydrated against the temperature when it starts to heat up really. We hear horrific stories of beloved pets succumbing to the scorching heat when left inside locked cars for only a minute, but the truth is that they are still at real risk even when unenclosed.
The simple reason that dogs suffer in particular from extreme heat is that they lack the ability to sweat as humans do to cool themselves off. Aside from some glands in the pads of their feet, the majority of heat a dog can remove is only done via panting, but this does have its limits and is the little protection as temperatures begin to rise into higher figures.
As expected, the impact of such ‘heatstroke’ is a horrific one that will result in significant pain for a dog if not outright death. The common symptoms of a dog suffering from this are excessive panting (virtually to the point of wheezing), whimpering and barking at seemingly nothing in particular and eventually fainting if they can’t go on any further. There are many other signs of heat stroke to be aware of, but these are some of the most common and amongst the easiest to detect.
Therefore the question for responsible dog owners is how to keep your dog cool and hydrated during days of excessive heat? You might in the case of long-haired breeds, in particular, think the natural solution would be to have your dog’s coat trimmed, but this is not as helpful as you might think. With longer hair, the air, in fact, finds it easier to circulate which improves the natural ventilation effect taking place. Removing the barrier between the animal’s skin and the sun’s rays also increases the risk of sunburn which of course is also far from pleasant!
Another common mistake many make through misguided compassion is to pour or spray water on their dog in a similar style to how a cold shower could cool us, humans, down. Unlike with us, however, the water will simply weigh the dog down which not only moves require more energy but gets in the way of heat ‘aerating’ from the skin.
Furthermore, prevention is always better than cure so wherever possible try and avoid heading outdoors with your dog on hot days unless vital. If they must accompany you though, ensure they are somewhere with plenty of cool and shady spots that they can comfortably lie down on and with plenty of drinking water. As much as they may dislike it, going for a walk and other forms of exercise may have to be delayed until the temperature cools and the risk of any threats to their health is gone.
If however, you notice your dog appears to be overheating, it’s vital that they receive medical attention as soon as possible. In an ideal scenario it is best to take the dog’s temperature firstly, but of course, this isn’t always possible. The most immediate move you should make should be to remove the dog from the heat to a cooler area, ideally with proper ventilation. Should they still have the ability to do so, provide the dog with cold water to drink or if unconscious, wet their lips, gums, and tongue with water squeezed from a towel or flannel.
Even should it appear that they are recovered, do not delay in seeking out a vet at once to check your dog over and find out if they have received any long-term damage. Just because they may appear not to have suffered any surface damage has little relation to any internal goings-on, so a trained opinion is vital for your dog’s lasting health.
Thinking about such a horrible thing to happen to your beloved dog is never pleasant, but is far worse than having to experience such an ordeal. You may actively take precautions to avoid the heat, but in the middle of the hottest period of the year, heat stroke can come at any time just via chance and bad luck if your dog is lacking in hydration. It’s therefore vital that you recognize the signs of any issues, and know what you as a responsible dog owner have to do to give your dog the best shot possible at making a full recovery.
Read More: Our 5 Best Life Vests for Dogs in 2017