It is very important to be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and be able to recognize the times when your dog just needs to take a break and cool down, and those times when your dog needs medical attention via your nearest veterinarian to help them safely cool down and fight life threatening heart stroke or heat exhaustion. Taking frequent breaks and using safe cooling techniques will keep your down safe and healthy on those hot days in the sun!
Tips for keeping your dogs cool in the heat:
- When outside for extended periods of time, have your dogs take frequent breaks in the shade with a cool (not cold) bowl of water. Offer small amounts of water at a time (approximately half a water bottle at most). Do this more often if the day is exceptionally hot, give your dog a chance to cool down before you continue on. You will notice a change in your dog's panting from heavy to lighter when they are ready to get up and go again!
- Feed your dog a few hours before you go out to provide them with energy to take on the day, but give them 2-3 hours to digest the meal prior to going out to avoid bloat and stomach torsion.
- Add electrolytes to their water bowl to keep them replenished with everything they require to stay hydrated. A pet product or the human version such as unflavoured Pedialyte is ideal! Electrolytes will keep them hydrated and in good physical condition to handle the higher temperatures.
- Snacks! Offer your dog high calorie or high protein treats such as Zuke's Powerbones or Orijen Freeze Dried treats through out the outing, but don't give too many at once since it can cause stomach upset (especially in the heat!).
- Battery operated fans and a dog cooling mat can keep your dogs cool during their resting time.
- If you are at home or somewhere that allows it, offer your dog a kiddie pool full of cool water to splash around in! This will keep them cool on days that you are spending extended periods of time outside!
- If you are not doing excessive exercise but are spending a lot of time outdoors in the heat, make sure to always have cool clean water available and ample shade nearby!
- Choose to exercise your dog in the early morning or late evening when it is cooler to avoid the excessively hot afternoons!
- Keep your dog off hot pavement in the afternoon - if you can't walk on it barefoot, it's too hot for your dog.
- Keep in mind that thick coated / heavy coated breeds cannot spend as much time in the heat as shorter coated dogs.
If your dog becomes overheated while outside, find a shady place and have your dog stand for 10 minutes. Pour cool (not cold) water on your dog's paws, wet the inside of the ears with your cool, wet hands (do not poor water in the ear) and underbelly ONLY, then have them sit for 10 minutes, repeat with the water on their paws, underbelly and wet the ears (do not pour water in the ear). Have them lay down for another 10 minutes, then find an air conditioned environment to allow them to fully cool down. If any symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke occur, see a veterinarian immediately. On transport to the veterinarian hospital, apply cool water to the paws, underbelly and rub water with your hands on the inside of their ears. Do NOT offer cold water during heat exhaustion as you can cause bloat and stomach torsion. The cold water will shock their overheated system.
If your dog is showing any of the following symptoms, veterinarian assistance is required as soon as possible. Dogs will need help bringing their body heat down, re-hydrating and preventing serious effects such as seizures and potentially death.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion / Heat Stroke in Dogs
- Pale tongue and gums
- Unsteady, staggering gait
- Excessive heavy panting or unusual breathing
- Extreme thirst
- Excessive salivation / thick saliva
- Vomiting and Diarrhea
- Increased respiratory and heart rates
- Crying or distressed vocalizations
- Collapsing or losing consciousness
Do not under ANY circumstances leave your dogs in a car in hot weather without air conditioning AND supervision. Dogs left in hot cars can die very quickly, this happens often in the summer months unfortunately. If it is too hot, just leave your dog at home for the day.
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