Heatstroke In Dogs
Heatstroke happens when the body gets too hot and begins to overheat. It can be fatal in dogs.
Dogs are unable to sweat through their skin, instead they cool down by panting and releasing heat through their paws and their nose. That means they can quickly overheat and heatstroke can develop rapidly.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Excessive panting
If your dog has signs of heatstroke they should be moved into cool area with shade. You should wet their coat with cool water and contact a vet as soon as possible.
Puppies and senior dogs can often struggle in the heat and some breeds are less tolerant to heat than others. These include Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, Boxers, Shih Tzu’s, and French Bulldogs.
Preventing heatstroke is a vital part of basic dog care. Below we have some tips on how to keep your dog cool in hot weather.
Pavements & Paws
Hot pavements and pet paws don’t go well together. Paving stones can get hot enough to fry an egg in direct sunlight and this intense heat will be strong enough to burn your dog’s paws, even if only exposed briefly. The Blue Cross has the following advice:
“In this hot weather, dogs should only be walked first thing in the morning and last thing at night. A simple test is to take your own shoes off and stand on the path. If you are unable to keep your feet on the path for five seconds, then it is not safe to walk your dog.”
You can help keep your dog’s temperature down with the right gear. Using lightweight harnesses like our IDC®Lightweight Belt Harness or the IDC® Long Walk Harness are specifically designed to keep your dog cool. Our IDC® Powair Summer Harness has a water-retaining sponge lining for added coolness.
Wrapping a bandana around your dog helps keep direct sunlight off and can also be soaked in cold water to help your dog cool odd.
Available and clean drinking water is very important. Take a bottle with you for your dog to make sure they are hydrated. A collapsible bowl is very handy when out and about.
It’s important to keep mindful of how your dog is coping. If your dog begins to lag, seems to have low energy, or is panting heavily you should find a cool, shady spot for a break and give your dog water.
Cooling off In Water & Swimming
Most dogs love the water and it’s tempting the throw caution to the wind on a hot day and let your dog splash about in the first body of water you see. But safety comes first.
Firstly, just because your dog likes water that doesn’t mean they can swim – not all dogs can. And secondly, not all dogs that like the water like to swim. Some are simply content to splash about to cool off. So don’t force your dog to swim if they are reluctant.
Safety: If you’re at the beach, the sea current, tide, and waves all play a part. So always assess these before letting your dog in water. Also consider the terrain and wildlife. Jagged rocks and jellyfish pose just as much threat to dogs as to humans.
Blue-green algae is natural in ponds, lakes, and freshwater steams but can be very dangerous for dogs. If unsure, any body of water with algae is best avoided.
Courtesy: You should always make sure the water is safe, and that your dog is allowed in the water. Many public ponds, fountains, and lakes will be signed posted saying if they don’t allow swimming. If they don’t allow swimming, then that means dogs too!
On long car trips cars can become hot and stuffy. This can quickly become unbearable for your dog and even dangerous.
Pre-Travel: Cool down the car before you set off by running the air conditioning for a few minutes. You can also try airing out the car by opening the doors open if possible.
Open Windows: When traveling, open windows are the best way to keep your dog cool and they will enjoy the breeze. But if traffic jams are likely (they will be), then, if possible, have your dog sit near the car cooling vents/air conditioners.
Shade & Blinds: Consider adding car blinds to your windows to keep the sun off and avoid the greenhouse effect.
Hydration: Make sure you have plenty of drinking water for your dog! Keep a separate bottle and a bowl handy, filling it up when you make a stop.
Rest Stops: On longer trips, plan rest stops. Let your dog out of the car if safe to do so and keep them in the shade, making sure they are well hydrated.
When Parked: It should hopefully go without saying – don’t leave your dog alone in a parked car on a warm day. This is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. To demonstrate the point, Pet Health Network did a test to see how hot a car can get in a short period of time, even with the windows open:
It is also important to remember that even on cool days a car can become very hot if in direct sunlight.
Check out our Stop Dog Mobility Control Car Tether Leash to help keep your dog safe and comfortable on car trips!