Many of us have experienced heatstroke, so it should come as no surprise when our little
furry friends can experience it too. Heat strokes in any case can be potentially debilitating or even fatal.
That’s why we have constructed this blog as a means of preventing the unnecessary deaths of our pets.
Dogs are very different to humans in that they are unable to sweat from their skin the same way we can. Rather, they can only lower their body temperature via their mouth, nose and paw pads.
There are a variety of factors that can affect a dog’s ability to cool down during intense heat. Some of those factors include;
- Their overall health condition: Some of the contributing factors to a dog’s health include age, weight, and lifestyle.
- The breed of dog: Due to selective breeding, some dogs have changed, taking on traits that have undesirable impacts on a dogs ability to function. Dogs like pugs have a significantly harder time breathing compared to most other dogs.
- The environment: The environment a dog is in plays a large role in how effectively it can cool down. Dogs with access to shade and bodies of water can cool down much easier.
- Excessive panting: Excess panting typically occurs in unison with an increased heart rate, indicating an increase in body temp.
- Change in gum colour: Bright red or dark red gums can be a dead give away in whether or not your dog is dehydrated.
- Glazed eyes: Glazed eyes manifest themselves with a glassy appearance similar to that of a doll.
- Drooling: Drooling occurs as the result of dogs attempting to release heat through their mouths, one of their few cooling tactics.
- Weakness: Awkward movements and clear signs of exhaustion indicate dehydration and overheating.
- Vomiting or diarrhoea: Dogs may release excrement as a means of releasing heat from their bodies.
- Muscle tremors: Dehydration can result in muscles not behaving normally and spasming as a result.
- Provide plenty of shade and hydration: Hydration is extremely important as it helps maintain key functions. This includes brain function, heart function and proper digestion. Shade helps reduce the amount of water lost from overheating in the sun.
- Avoid exercise during times of heat: Exercising during the hottest times of the day increases your dog’s heart rate and core body temperature. Consider that your dog is unable to sweat, meaning they are unable to keep up with the amount of stress they would be placed under.
- Use cooling products: Popular cooling products suitable for your dog include: cooling beds, mats, portable fans, clam shell pools and fun hose attachments. These are all great ideas for cooling your dog down this summer.
- Bath your dog in cool water or apply a cool wet towel: Cool baths are both enjoyable for dogs but are great for keeping them cool this summer. Alternatively, cool wet towels are just as effective, acting like a sweat layer, absorbing excess amounts of heat from the dog.
- Trim down long fur: As cute and fluffy as your dog may be, a trim might just be the difference between a comfortable summer and heatstroke. Only dogs who have single coats are to be trimmed (e.g. Poodle [any cross breeds too], Maltese, Shih tzu etc) as their hair continues to grow and if not managed well, it can be uncomfortable. Other breeds of dogs may have a double coat, (e.g. German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador, Border Collie, Saint Bernard, Husky etc) and they are to never be clipped. Their double coat acts as an important sun barrier and heat protector. Clipping dogs with a double coat can cause them to be extremely susceptible to heatstroke.Double-coat dogs need to be brushed regularly to maintain their undercoat which will keep them cooler during summer.
- Ease your dog into the hot weather: Slowly increasing the temperature in whatever environment they may be in. This makes it easier for dogs which would otherwise not be comfortable with such heat, to now be able to bear it.
- Remove your dog from the heat source: Taking your dog away from the contributing factor to its overheating is a key first step. Removing dogs from hot environments like direct sunlight or cars is a must. Cars are able to over heat in excess of the forecasted temperature, behaving almost like an oversized oven.
- Offer water and encourage drinking: Water is a must in order to help your dog recover its lost fluid levels as well as to help cool your pet down.
- Apply cool, not cold, water to the body: Ensure the water you provide your dog is cool rather than cold. Suddenly providing your dog cold water while overheating can cause shock in both vital organs as well as in blood vessels and nerves. This temperature shock can be painful, debilitating as well as fatal.
- If overheating symptoms continue to persist, visit a vet and get your dog professional treatment.
Our furry friends are much less capable of taking care of themselves as we are of them, meaning we have to do everything we can to keep them cool this summer.
That’s why we emphasise giving your dog easy access to cool drinking water, avoiding exercise on hot days, trimming fur as well as helping them adjust to the heat.
Being both their friend and owner, it is your duty to provide the loving care that is necessary for their wellbeing. That’s why we urge all pet owners to employ these preventative measures as well as treatment methods this summer.