Dogs do not have the ability to sweat all over their bodies like we do. They only sweat on areas that are not covered in fur, such as their paw pads and their noses. Because of this, they rely on panting to cool down in hot temperatures. It’s a fairly poor cooling system, which means we need to be aware of the warning signs of overheating so that we can care for our pups properly.
We have all heard the horror stories of dogs being left in hot cars, and suffering from heatstroke or death after only a few minutes. Heatstroke can occur from a number of different sources. Overexertion in hot temperatures, being left in a hot car and walking on hot pavement are all bad ideas for your dog.
A dog’s normal temperature is 101.5 degrees. A degree up or down is a normal fluctuation, but anything more than that in either direction is a cause for concern. It doesn’t take long for a dog to overheat. As little as 10 minutes inside a parked car can be deadly to some dogs. Be aware of the signs of overheating so that you can react appropriately!
Signs of an Overheated Dog:
- Heavy and rapid panting
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Bright red or purple gums
- Exhaustion and fatigue
Every dog is different, and every dog has a different heat tolerance. You will learn to recognize your dog’s behavior, and be able to tell if he is acting unusual or erratically because of the heat. When in doubt, call your vet.
HOT WEATHER TIPS:
- Have water available at all times.
- Shade should always be available if spending time outside.
- Take frequent breaks during particularly hot periods of the day.
- Time your walks around the weather.
- Don’t walk during the hottest stretches of the day. The pavement is too hot for your dog’s paws, and they could get burned. Aim for early morning or late evening for walks, when the pavement and weather is a little more comfortable.
- If your dog seems hot, cool him down with a cold towel under his armpits, or by playing with the garden hose or in the pool.
- Never leave your dog alone in a hot vehicle where they can quickly get overheated.
MY DOG IS OVERHEATED, NOW WHAT?
Keep your calm, but act quickly! Every second counts when dealing with a dog that is overheating. Move your dog to shade or air conditioning immediately. Put cool (not cold) water over your dog, focusing on the groin area. Offer your pup small amounts of cool water to drink, and get in touch with your vet if he doesn’t start to improve.