As we move deeper into the summer, the temperatures are going to continue to climb, and it is important to know how to keep your pets safe and what signs to look for if they are overheating. Unlike us, dogs cannot regulate their body temperature very well because they do not sweat. Certain breeds like Pugs, Boxers, or anything with a squishy face (properly known as a brachycephalic breed) or dogs with long, thick coats are more susceptible to getting overheated. These physical traits can make them more prone to overheating, as well as if the dog is young, elderly, or overweight or has certain medial conditions. It is up to us to help protect them and keep them safe.
The best thing you can do this summer is preventing overheating in the first place. In hot weather, it is crucial that your pets have easy access to shade and water. You should try to exercise your dog early in the morning or late in the evening when it is cooler. If you have a high energy dog that needs lots of activity, try taking them for a swim instead of the usual dog park trip or walk. If you are doing outdoor activities, take lots of breaks in the shade or indoors and have cool water available. If it is an extra sweltering day, it is best to find indoor activities and avoid the heat all together. Most importantly, NEVER leave your dog in a parked car. Even on a mild day with the windows cracked, temperatures inside your car can quickly reach over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes and that can prove fatal to your dog.
Even if you follow all those tips, sometimes your dog can still overheat.
Here are some symptoms of heat exhaustion to look out for:
- Excessively panting
- Slow to respond or confused, glazed eyes
- High Body temperature (anything over 103 degrees)
- Dizziness or lack of coordination
- Excessive drooling
- Rapid or erratic pulse
- Severe Heat exhaustion symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, collapse, convulsions, and/or discolored gums
If you see any of the above symptoms immediately get your pet out of the heat and to a cool place such as under a fan or air-conditioning, if possible. Place cool wet towels on the neck and under the armpits and provide cool water. If you pet is not conscious or is unable to drink, do not force it, just dampen their tongue with the water. Do not give them ice as it can shock their system. If you can, take your dog’s temperature and provide that information to your vet.
In all the above cases, you should start the first aid while you arrange to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible. Call ahead so that your vet can be prepared to provide immediate medical care.
The summer is a wonderful time to make memories with your furry best friend and with a little preparation, you can make sure they are safe while having all that fun in the sun!
This piece was written by our clinic manager, Rebecca Goff.