Protect Your Dog From the Dangers of Heat
Summer is many peoples’ favorite month, but it can be brutal for our dogs. Once the air temperature reaches 70°, precautions should be taken into consideration to avoid heat stroke or other complications. For one, “on a 77° day, asphalt in the sun can be 125°” (Adopt-a-Pet.com). That’s hot enough to scramble some eggs for breakfast! These are dangerous circumstances for our furry friends. Heat stroke is a serious potential outcome often overlooked as our sweat glands allow us to handle heat much better than our dogs that only sweat through their paws. That said, we have some tips for you to make sure Buddy enjoys summer vacation as much as you!
On particularly hot days, special attention to their internal temperature should be maintained with a thermometer. A normal temperature is anywhere from 100.5° to 102.5°. With that said, heat stroke usually starts at 105°. However, it is paramount to know that dogs with flatter faces and or ones with preexisting health conditions can overheat quicker. Their bodies are not able to expel heat as easily as other dogs can. In general, dogs can only sweat through their paws which is hard to do when the ground is burning them.
Heat stroke is the body’s reaction to overheating from high temperatures for a prolonged amount of time. According to Dogs Naturally, the warning signs in dogs are:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive thirst
- Glazed eyes
- Increased salivation
- Dry gums that are pale or grayish
- Bright or dark red tongue or gums
- Rapid or erratic pulse
- Weakness, staggering, confusion, inattention
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
Heat stroke that is unrecognized or untreated can lead to much more dangerous circumstances. Within a short amount of time, your dog can have a seizure or even fall into a coma. This is why it is important to take precautions on these unbearably hot summer days. Some helpful tips are:
- Keep them in the shade
- Although helpful, it can also be deceiving since it can feel up to 15° cooler but is actually the exact same temperature out of the shade. This is due to the sun’s rays not coming into direct contact in a shaded area.
- Go for walks only when it is cooler out and, on the grass, rather than pavement
- Stay hydrated by feeding them watery fruits and foods with cooling energetics
- Watermelon, strawberries, banana, apples, celery
- Rabbit and duck
- The Bear & The Rat Frozen Yogurt Dog Treats (available in our stores)
- Do NOT give cold or ice water
- This causes their blood vessels to constrict which inhibits their body to cool down even more than it is already struggling to
- Make sure they do not drink too quickly to prevent other complications caused by bloating or vomiting
- Hose some cool water on their main body parts (paws, inner thighs, and stomach)
- Do not drench them in water as this can prevent their body from expelling heat through their coat
- Do not let them drink the hose water as too much can lead to water poisoning (discussed more below)
- Use a Cooling Vest
- Cooling vests evaporate your dog’s body heat along with the water it is wet with prior to putting on too quickly and safely reduce their body temperature. We recommend The Ruffwear cooling vests as it is considered the best on the market for the reasons mentioned below.
- Take them for a swim
- Make sure the water is not too cold (45° and above are safe)
- To ensure complete safety, we carry Ruffwear’s Float Coat which is bluesign® approved for it’s safe and comfortable design.
- Do not let them drink the water as it can lead to water poisoning (discussed more below)
- Consider using sunscreen made for dogs on their snouts
- Dogs with lighter coats are more prone to sunburn and this can be a great extra layer of safety
- Dogs often get sunburn where there is less fur such as their snouts. They should be properly protected from the harsh UV rays the sun penetrates with some sunscreen made for dogs..
- Go on a short stroll
- By keeping them moving without exerting too much energy, it allows cool blood to circulate around the body
- Once they’ve calmed down, go straight to the vet
- Dogs Naturally states “Even if your dog seems fine, he’ll need a veterinary exam. There may be underlying damage to his organs. The effects of heat stroke can continue for 48-72 hours”.
Keep in mind that just like when we wear a black shirt, it absorbs the sun’s rays significantly more than a white shirt; the same method goes for dogs. Darker coats absorb more of the sun’s heat compared to a lighter coat and should be taken into consideration when preventing heat stroke or discomfort. By wearing a cooling vest, it can inhibit heat stroke in any dog. Cooling vests work by evaporating your dog's body heat along with the water it is wet with to quickly cool them down in a safe way. Think of it like a giant ice pack for your hot dog. The Ruffwear cooling vests we carry are specially designed for maximum coverage with a UPF rating of 50+ and can be worn with a leash for walks. UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) determines the amount of UV radiation that penetrates the skin through fabric. Dogs should be protected with at least a rating of 30 (good), but 50+ is the maximum (excellent). However, while a cooling vest is a great way to prevent heat stroke, it should not be used to treat it.
When taking Buddy for a swim, a close eye should be kept. We recommend all dogs wear a life vest to prevent complications when they tire out from paddling their two front legs. We carry Ruffwear’s Float Coat for the safest measures on any swimming style your dog likes. This particular doggie life vest is designed to not interrupt their natural swimming style while remaining secure. If needed to help your dog, there is a sturdy handle to gently lift them. The reflective trim is helpful if your dog has ventured too far out or went for a night plunge. It is considered to be the top-rated life vest for dogs with its bluesign® approved shell fabric. Bluesign approval determines that it meets the strictest regulations held worldwide by using sustainable and safe production.
If your dog decided to go for a dip in the pool, I’m sure you have experienced them drinking the forbidden chlorine-water. While you may let it go for a minute or two, chlorine is extremely harmful to their organs. Furthermore, when too much chlorinated-water is ingested, it can lead to water poisoning, erode their esophagus, and irritate their gastrointestinal tract leading to vomiting. When swimming in lakes, blue-green algae blooms are extremely toxic to dogs and are usually fatal. If your dog has come into contact with it, rinse them off with water and take them to the vet immediately. Mosquito eggs can be an issue in lakes as well as seemingly-innocent puddles. To us, mosquitos are just a nuisance; to our dogs, they are a health threat. If ingested, heartworm could attack your dog's heart, arteries, and lungs possibly causing permanent damage to their bodies. Ocean swims are just as dangerous with algae growths called red tides. You should also be cautious of your dog eating toxic sea creatures such as jellyfish, shellfish, urchins, and starfish. Moreover, drinking the salt water should be avoided altogether as it gives access to extreme dehydration, parasites, and bacteria. The salt from swimming will lead to dry and irritated skin, accelerating symptoms of heat stroke as the sun’s UV rays are 5-10% stronger in the water.
Any time your dog is around water, be sure they are not drinking an excessive amount. An excessive amount can be as little as biting the sprinkler or taking gulps from the hose in the yard. If too much is ingested, water poisoning is likely to affect them. Water poisoning occurs when a dog ingests too much water killing their electrolytes and can lead to death. Symptoms to look out for are:
- Excessive drooling
- Dilated pupils
- Glazed eyes
- Lightened gums
Unfortunately, symptoms often cannot be seen until 3-4 days later according to ASPCA. If left untreated for too long, it will advance to collapsing, difficulty breathing, passing out, seizures, or even death. If you suspect your dog has water poisoning, take them to the vet immediately. It is important to mention that leaner breeds are more prone to this condition since their metabolism absorbs water quicker than other breeds. Knowing this, it is crucial to follow all prevention procedures to ensure your dog does not ingest water when swimming or playing with water. If all precautions are followed, it can be a great way to reduce their body temperature and have a tail-wagginly good time.
A last measure to be confident your furry friend is safe and having fun is to take them in for a haircut! Shaving their fur can be an effective way to reduce the body temperature of your dog. If your dog has longer fur, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our groomers at our Livingston location for a clean, refreshing shave. We recommend you do not do it yourself as depending on the breed, you may cut their guard hairs which protects against sunburn and overheating.
Whatever the weather is, if it is 70° or above, you should take precautions to keep your dog safe and comfortable. By following the advice in this blog, you are sure to have a paw-some summer!
Visit your local Well Bred today and contact us about all our summer supplies. We are so excited to help you and your dog have fun in the sun together!