Preventing Overheating: Summer Safety for Dogs

Phoebe Cooper · Jul 5, 2024 · All

Author: Natalie Szymiczek

As the temperature rises, we need to make sure that our furry friends stay cool and comfortable. Dogs are vulnerable to overheating, especially during the summer months, and it's our responsibility as pet owners to protect them from heat-related illnesses.

In this blog, we'll discuss important tips and strategies to prevent overheating and keep your dog safe this summer.

Understanding the Risks of Overheating

When dogs get too hot, their bodies can struggle to regulate temperature. Unlike us, they can't sweat to cool down effectively. Instead, they rely on panting and seeking shade to stay cool. If they can't cool down enough, they can develop heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

The Difference Between Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are commonly confused because they share similar symptoms, but they differ in their severity and treatment. Heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke if not properly managed. Heat exhaustion is considered a milder form of heat-related illness and is often a precursor to heat stroke. Here's how it can progress:

  • Heat Exhaustion: When a dog is exposed to high temperatures and lacks adequate hydration and cooling, they may develop heat exhaustion.
  • Heat Stroke: If heat exhaustion is not recognized and treated promptly, it can progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke is a more severe condition where the body's temperature regulation fails completely. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention.

Therefore, dog owners must recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and take immediate steps to cool down their dog and provide them with water and shade. This helps prevent the progression to heat stroke and ensures the dog's safety during hot weather.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Muscle tremors
  • Dizziness or disorientation
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Rapid, excessive panting
  • Bright red or pale gums
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Collapse or inability to stand
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

It's essential to recognize these signs early and take action to cool down your dog and prevent further complications. In the next sections, we'll cover practical tips for preventing overheating and what to do if your dog shows signs of heat stress. Let's keep our pups safe and comfortable in the summer heat!

Tips for Preventing Overheating

You are responsible for keeping your dog safe and cool this summer - after all, they can’t tell us when they are feeling overheated! Here’s a few tips to beat the heat:

  • Provide access to shade and cool water: Make sure your dog has a shady spot to rest and plenty of fresh, cool water to drink throughout the day.
  • Limit exercise during the hottest parts of the day: Avoid vigorous exercise during peak heat hours. Go on walks in the early morning or late evening hours, when the temperature has cooled down.
  • Using cooling products like mats and vests: Cooling mats and vests can keep your dog cool and provide relief from the heat.
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car: Even on mild days, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly become dangerously hot. Always take your dog with you or leave them at home in a cool, shaded area.

Recognizing and Responding to Overheating

If you recognize any of the warning signs of heat exhaustion listed above, it’s important to respond immediately.

Here’s how you can cool down an overheated dog:

  • Move to a cool place: Immediately move your dog to a shaded or air-conditioned area.
  • Offer water: Provide your dog with cool, fresh water to drink. You can also offer ice cubes to lick.
  • Cooling methods: Use cool (not cold) water to wet their coat and skin, especially the abdomen and paws. You can also place wet towels over them or use a fan to promote evaporation.
  • Avoid ice-cold water: While cool water is beneficial, avoid using ice-cold water or ice packs. These can have an adverse effect by constricting blood vessels and slowing the cooling process.
  • Monitor closely: Continue to monitor your dog's temperature. Stop cooling measures once their breathing slows and they appear more comfortable.

When to seek veterinary care:

  • Persistent symptoms: If your dog's symptoms of overheating do not improve or worsen despite your efforts to cool them down.
  • Severe symptoms: If your dog experiences severe symptoms such as collapse, seizures, or unconsciousness.
  • Temperature concerns: If your dog's body temperature remains elevated (above 103°F or 39.4°C).
  • Underlying conditions: If your dog is elderly, has a pre-existing medical condition, or is a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed, they are at higher risk and should be seen by a veterinarian promptly.

Remember, heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate veterinary care. Acting quickly to cool down an overheated dog and knowing when to seek professional help can make a critical difference in your dog's recovery and well-being.

Special Considerations for Different Breeds

It's important to tailor your approach to preventing overheating based on your dog's breed characteristics.

Some breeds are more prone to overheating:

  • Brachycephalic Breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers have short noses and flat faces, making it difficult for them to cool down by panting. They should have limited exercise in hot weather, plenty of shade, and access to cooling mats or vests.
  • Double-Coated Breeds such as Huskies, Malamutes, and Chow Chows have dense fur that can trap heat, increasing their risk of overheating. They benefit from regular grooming to manage their fur, avoiding vigorous exercise in the heat, and ensuring they have shade and water.
  • Senior Dogs may have reduced heat tolerance due to age-related factors. They need close monitoring for signs of overheating, adjustments in exercise intensity, and a cool, comfortable environment.

Summer Activities for Dogs

Summer offers plenty of fun activities with your dog while keeping them safe from the heat. Enjoy activities like early morning or late evening walks to avoid the hottest part of the day. Consider water activities like swimming, which helps keep dogs cool. If you're planning outdoor adventures, bring plenty of water and take breaks in shaded areas.

In the heat of the day, consider keeping your dog indoors in the air conditioning with a long-lasting chew, like a Power Chew or Yak Cheese Chew to pass the time!

Check out our store for a range of all-natural, healthy, and tasty dog treats to make your summer even more fun!