Summer 2020 is not like any summer we’ve experienced before on the planet. Most offices, schools, and public places are still shut down due to the pandemic, forcing new habits around socializing, exercising, and recreating in general. One of the positive things to come from the shelter in place orders is that animal rescue organizations nationwide are reporting a huge increase in fostering and adopting. With our two hottest months still ahead of us here in the US, we thought this would be a good time to revisit the topic of caring for your pup in hot weather. Here is a list of things everyone should know, to keep dogs cool and healthy in the sunshine season.
Never leave your dog in the car unattended. Hopefully, this is a given by now, but it’s such an important rule, that we didn’t want to skip it. On a warm day, the temperature inside a parked car can reach temps above 120 degrees, in a matter of minutes. Even with the windows partially open, your dog can suffer heatstroke, brain damage, and death when trapped in a hot vehicle. Just don’t do it. Ever.
Proper hydration is key to keeping canines cool. Keeping your pup hydrated is one of THE most important things you can do for its health. Making fresh water available to them wherever they are is critical, especially on hot days. If your dog likes spending time outside when at home, be sure they have clean water, and cool it down with ice cubes several times daily. If your BFF is on the go with you, don’t forget to take water along, no matter how short the trip. Highwave’s Autodogmug was invented for this very purpose, to ensure that no matter where you wander or roam, your dog has clean, fresh water.
Exercise early or late. An easy way to keep your dog from getting overheated is to avoid exercising them when the temps soar. Walking earlier or later in the day when it’s cooler is one of the easiest ways to prevent heat stroke. If you must walk when it’s warmer, choose shady paths or walk your dog on grass. Only walk your dog on pavement, if you can comfortably hold your bare hand or foot on it for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for theirs. It’s also vital to condition your dog to prolonged exercise, before expecting them to keep up with you. They need time to build endurance, just like humans do.
Know the signs of heatstroke. All of the information above is to help avoid this often-deadly issue. Your dog’s normal temperature is between 100 and 103 degrees. If it reaches 105, they begin to experience heat stroke. Symptoms to watch for include heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, a purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness. Animals that are very old, very young, overweight, or who have underlying health issues are at particular risk. Dogs with short muzzles will also have a harder time breathing in extreme heat.
Act fast if you suspect heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Hyperthermia in dogs is a life or death medical emergency. If you believe your dog is suffering from it, seek medical attention immediately. Pre-cool your car and call the vet ahead to let them know you are coming with a heatstroke patient, if time allows. You can help your dog on the way, by placing a cool wet towel beneath them and offering small sips of water if they’re conscious. It’s important not to give too much water or give it too fast as this can induce vomiting. Heatstroke can cause lasting damage to internal organs, so be sure to follow up with your vet if you see them for this issue. You can learn more about this topic straight from a vet here, or read about my personal encounter with it here.
Stay safe and cool out there!