In Dog Walking, Safety

Yay for summertime!!  It comes with a lot of fun and a lot of things to be aware of.  Here are some tips and recommendations to keep your dog safe from overheating as the temps rise over 100 degrees.

Of course, we want our fur babies to enjoy the summer fun too, but intense heat can cause your pet to overheat or even suffer a heat stroke. Unlike humans, dogs have a higher body temperature and are less efficient at cooling themselves down. This is because they have fewer sweat glands that are only confined to their foot pads. Dogs rely on panting to control most of their temperature regulation. When dogs pant, they evaporate moisture from their tongues, nasal passages, and the lining of their lungs, cooling themselves as air passes over the moist tissue.

What are the key signs that your dog is overheating?

  • Excessive Panting. One of the first signs you will see when your dog is getting too hot is excessive panting. So how do you tell the difference between normal and excessive panting? If your dog is breathing as if they are in an intense run, yet they are just taking a stroll then most likely they are overheating.
  • Excessive Drooling/Foaming at the Mouth. Some dogs drool more than others. However, you should be alarmed by excessive and abnormal drooling when the temperature is hot. The thicker and stickier saliva helps the dog dissipate heat more efficiently when panting
  • Fast and Irregular Heartbeat. In normal temperatures, a healthy dog has a slower heart rate. However, when it’s hot dogs dissipate heat through vasodilation. A fast heartbeat means that your dog is pumping overheated blood away from the vital organs to the extremities
  • Rapid Breathing. Your dog may switch from excessive panting to deep, noisy and rapid breathing. This indicates that they are trying to get oxygen into their system for cooling relief from overheating
  • Lethargic Behavior. Excessive heat can cause lethargy in pets. You may notice your dog napping more or having trouble standing up and walking
  • Disorientation. In addition to lethargy, your pet may stumble when walking or be unaware of their surroundings and may for instance bump into furniture
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea. Overheating can cause severe dehydration. This, in turn, causes gastrointestinal upset resulting in severe diarrhea and vomiting that may also have traces of blood
  • Collapse. Intense overheating may cause your dog to collapse, and there may be other signs of neurological distress such as convulsions. At this level, it’s an emergency, and you should call an ambulance to get your pet to the vet

How do you prevent your pet from overheating?

  • Never leave your dog inside a parked car
  • Keep them inside with AC during the hot part of the day
  • Make sure their area is well ventilated
  • Ensure there are shady places in their outside area
  • Make sure they have enough water
  • Have a cooling dog mat or elevated mesh dog bed

Tips for dog walking during the summer:

  • Stay within a close radius of home in case you need to get your dog back into the AC quickly
  • Walk the dog in the grass whenever possible and avoid pavement – check pavement with your hand or barefoot
  • Take water breaks in the shade
  • Avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
  • Utilize a cooling vest or collar
  • Walk near a body of water they can jump in safely to cool themselves off

What to do if your dog is overheating?

  1. Immediately take your dog to a cooler area
  2. Wet your pet with water-soaked towels on the abdomen, chest, feet, face, and neck – in that order.  The abdomen and chest are the most efficient and closer to vital organs. Do not use cold water – rapid cooling can be dangerous. If you can’t get home – spray with a water hose
  3. Lightly place Isopropyl alcohol (70%) on the dog’s foot pads – don’t use large quantities
  4. Place your pet in front of a fan. You are recreating the cooling effect of sweat
  5. Take the temperature of your dog – at 103 degrees (F) stop wetting and fanning them
  6. As your pet continues to cool give them cool (not ice cold) water to drink

Dogs more susceptible to heat stroke:

  • Brachycephalic breeds – dogs with short snouts. Popular brachycephalic breeds include English and French Bulldogs, Bull Mastiffs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, and Pekingese
  • Dogs that have had a previous episode of heat stroke
  • Dogs with a lack of appropriate shelter
  • Dogs with dark-colored and/or double-layered coats such as Labradors, Huskies, Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers
  • Senior dogs
  • Overweight dogs
  • Puppies

At Game Time Dog Services we prioritize fun, but safety is paramount and is always our first concern.  Have fun out there!

SOURCES:
Murdoch University Veterinary School
Hill’s Pet
The Shot Spot
Red Cross
SPCA
AKC

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