By Deb Young
Hot weather spells trouble for dogs.
Because they can’t release heat by sweating the way humans do, heat and humidity can raise body temp to dangerous levels.
Here are some strategies for helping hot dogs chill out….
To reduce heat stress , let your dog become accustomed to climate changes naturally and gradually. Summer daytime temperatures are coolest at dawn and dusk. Theses are the best times to take your dog for a run or a long walk.
Whenever temperatures climb, provide extra drinking water. Your dog’s panting cools him by releasing body heat, but this process also can dehydrate his body.
To encourage a hot dog to drink on hot days, resupply his cold water. Adding ice cubes provides a steady supply of refreshing, cold water (check to make sure it melts quickly enough to provide as much water as he might wish to drink).
For summer comfort, nothing beats the shade of trees, so as you plan the day’s activities, look for parks, play areas, picnic tables, and hiking trails that are sheltered from direct sunlight.
As many know, it’s never safe to leave a dog in a parked vehicle. The inside of a car parked in the sun, even with its windows down, can increase by several degrees per minute, quickly reaching 125oF or even 150oF.
Even when parked in the shade on a warm day, animals (or kids or the elderly) can succumb to heatstroke or death if left in the car unattended.
If you know who the owner is, a friendly “hey, your pet is hot” or some other means of striking up conversation will alert the owner to the dangers of leaving their pet in the car.
Usually though, the car is in a parking lot and the dog is alone. In this case, speak with a store manager. I have found store managers to be very helpful in locating the owner or calling animal control. They do not want a tragedy happening in their parking lot.
Keeping your dog well groomed, with frequent brushing to remove dead hair, especially the undercoat. Some long-haired or heavy-coated dogs feel much more comfortable with short summer cuts, keeping in mind that dogs whose coats are shaved or cut very short are at risk for sunburn.
Any dog can suffer from heat related issues, but dogs who are most susceptible include the very young and old ,breeds with flat faces or short noses; dogs who are overweight, physically inactive, have cardiovascular disease, or respiratory problems.
The symptoms of heat stress include profuse panting, salivation, an anxious expression, staring without seeing, failing to respond to commands, skin that is warm and dry, fever, rapid pulse, fatigue or exhaustion, muscular weakness, and physical collapse.
The symptoms of heat stroke include a warm nose and foot pads, glazed eyes, heavy panting, rapid pulse, a dark red tongue, fever, dizziness, vomiting or diarrhea, immobility, and unconsciousness. Brain damage occurs when the body’s temperature reaches 106o to 107oF. A dog’s normal temperature is 100.5o to 101.5oF
Heat stroke kills, and heat stress (a less severe condition) can take a serious toll on a dog’s health. Unfortunately, heat-related problems are among the most common summer canine ailments. Plan ahead to keep your best friend happy and healthy!