Hot Weather Safety Tips for Pets
Hot weather spells trouble for dogs. Because they can’t release heat by sweating the way humans do, heat and humidity can raise canine body temperatures to dangerous levels. Heat stroke kills, and heat stress (a less severe condition) can take a serious toll on a dog’s health. Unfortunately, heat-related problems are among the most common summer canine ailments.
Heat stress risks
The symptoms of heat stress include profuse panting, salivation, an anxious expression, staring without seeing, failing to respond to commands, skin that is warm and dry, fever, rapid pulse, fatigue or exhaustion, muscular weakness, and physical collapse.
The symptoms of heat stroke or heat prostration can include a warm nose and foot pads, glazed eyes, heavy panting, rapid pulse, a dark red tongue, fever, dizziness, vomiting or diarrhea, immobility, and unconsciousness. Brain damage occurs when the body’s temperature reaches 106˚ to 107˚F. A dog’s normal temperature is 100.5˚ to 101.5˚F
If your dog experiences any of the above symptoms, call the clinic or the after-hours emergency clinic.
Heat Stress Prevention
Summer daytime temperatures are coolest at dawn and dusk. Just after sunrise and just before sunset are the best times to take your dog for a run or a long walk. Humidity matters as much as temperature. Always watch for signs of stress. Dogs pant to release heat, so if your dog pants more heavily than usual, slow down, stop, find shade, offer water, and rest for a while.
Ideal dog exercise locations are shaded parks or lawns near a pond, river, creek, or pool. Beaches are usually cooler than inland areas, and both lakes and oceans (assuming conditions are safe for swimming) allow dogs to cool off whenever they like. Whether your dog is a wader or swimmer, let him rest in the shade after playing in water. At home, a plastic wading pool can be a perfect place to dip and chill.
Whenever temperatures climb, provide extra drinking water. Your dog’s panting cools him by releasing body heat, but this process also can dehydrate his body.
To encourage a hot dog to drink on hot days, resupply his cold water. Some people fill a dog bowl or bucket and freeze it overnight. As it melts during the day, it provides a steady supply of refreshing, cold water (check to make sure it melts quickly enough to provide as much water as he might wish to drink).
It is never safe to leave a dog in a parked vehicle. The inside of a car parked in the sun, even with its windows down, can increase by several degrees per minute, quickly reaching 125oF or even 150oF.
Keep your dog well groomed, with frequent brushing to remove dead hair, especially the undercoat. Some long-haired or heavy-coated dogs feel much more comfortable with short summer cuts, keeping in mind that dogs whose coats are shaved or cut very short are at risk for sunburn.