If you’re having sunny weather it can be oh-so enticing to run outside and have a good time. There are so many things you can do from throwing a Frisbee or stick to hanging out at the dog park. There is a danger though, that your dog will get sunburn, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. The good news is that you can prevent these things from happening to your dog.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heatstroke occurs when your dog’s body fails to maintain its internal temperature in a safe range. Animals do not have the efficient cooling systems of humans and can get overheated easily.
A dog with moderate heatstroke (body temperature from 104º to 106ºF) can recover within an hour if given prompt first aid and veterinary care (normal body temperature is 100-102.5°F). Severe heatstroke (body temperature over 106ºF) can be deadly and immediate veterinary assistance is needed.
Have you ever left your dog in a parked car when the outdoor temperature is above 60 degrees? If so, it’s definitely time to stop. In fact, leaving a dog in a car is the number one reason that dogs get heat stroke. They can also develop it if they are too active on a very hot day and don’t have accessible water and a shady spot to lie in.
When going on a walk on a hot day, first take your shoes off and walk across the same concrete or asphalt you will be taking your dog. If it’s too hot for your feet, it’s definitely too hot for your dog’s paws. Keep an eye out for danger zones such as hot, black pavement, the bed of a truck, or beach sand. If you allow your dog to be on these areas, he might get blisters. Stick to grassy areas if at all possible. It’s best to leave your dog in your air-conditioned home if you are going to be out running errands. If you must take your dog with you it’s best to leave them in the car with the air conditioner still running.
If your dog is overweight or has a history of lung or heart disease, you need to be extra careful. Older dogs are particularly susceptible to getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Try not to take your dog exercising with you. Some people like to take their dogs power walking, jogging and cycling. If your dog falls behind or seems overly hot or tired it might be time to call it a day. There are some dogs that live outside. These owners need to be especially careful and provide plenty of clean water and a shady area for them to go during the day. There are ventilated doghouses and umbrellas that can do the trick.
You might not have considered it before but the sun can burn your dog. Areas that are particularly sensitive are the nose, ears, and lips. You can try to keep your dog in the shade between the sunniest hours of the day. These are usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you are not able to stay in the shade you can put sunscreen on your dog’s nose and other sensitive areas. You should not put sunscreen on your dog’s lips as it is not safe. You just need to keep an eye on them to be sure there is no sunburn. Any blistering needs to be examined by a veterinarian.
If you have an older dog it is best to keep in them inside no matter what when it’s very hot. You might even want to keep a fan on your dog to make sure he stays nice and cool.
Follow these guidelines to help prevent serious heat-related problems:
- Keep dogs with known heart or weight conditions, older dogs, or dogs with breathing problems cool and in the shade. Even normal activity for these dogs can be harmful.
- Provide access to clean water at all times. Your dogs should be allowed to drink as much and as often as they need to.
- Do not leave your pet in a hot parked car even if you’re in the shade or will only be gone a short time. The temperature inside a parked car can quickly reach up to140 degrees.
- Make sure outdoor dogs have access to shade and water.
- On a hot day, restrict exercise and don’t take your dog jogging with you. Too much exercise when the weather is very hot can be dangerous.
- Do not muzzle your dog. If you are required to muzzle your dog when in public, keep your dog at home or exercise on private property.
- Avoid places like the beach and especially concrete or asphalt areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to shade.
- Wetting down your dog with cool water or allowing him to swim can help maintain a normal body temperature.
- Move your dog to a cool area of the house. Air conditioning is one of the best ways to keep a dog cool, but is not always dependable. To provide a cooler environment, freeze water in soda bottles, or place ice and a small amount of water in several re-sealable food storage bags. Wrap them in a towel or tube sock and place them on the floor for your dog to lie on.