Temperatures seem to keep rising. This is one of the hottest summers on record and it can be very uncomfortable for all of us. It’s especially hard on our pets. Overheating and heat stroke can happen quickly and it is very important that you understand the symptoms and that you take every precaution to keep your pets cool so that it doesn’t happen.
Older pets are especially susceptible to this issue and some dogs that have flattened faces, such as pugs, pekinese, bulldogs, boxers, and mixes thereof. Brachycephalic animals have shortened nasal passages and airways, making it hard for them to get cooled off when the heat rises. They have a very difficult time breathing when they exert themselves and when it is hot outside, they can find themselves in dire straits quickly.
Let’s look at some ways that you can ensure that your dog doesn’t find themselves in trouble during the summer heat.
Provide Ways to Cool Off
- Giving dogs cold treats in the summertime is a great way to help them stay cool. Freeze snacks and give them fruit frozen in blocks of ice so they stay hydrated and cooled off. Providing some ice for them is a great way to give them something cool to lay on too.
- Consider providing a kiddie pool that they can soak in whenever they feel hot. Dogs cool off with getting their feet wet. Many dogs that don’t even like to swim will walk into a kiddie pool with a few inches of cool water so that they can cool their body off. It’s a great way to introduce them to water and swimming if they’ve never been too. Some dogs will enjoy their pool so much that they will lay in it during the heat of the day.
- Ensure that they are well-shaded when they are outside. Especially during the heat of the day, they need shade. Keep a shady area with plenty of water for them to drink and/or soak in, is absolutely essential to keeping them cooled-off.
- Don’t do strenuous activity with them during the heat of the day. Bring them into air conditioning if you can. Even if they only have space on a cool kitchen floor, this can be life-saving on days when the heat index is reaching triple digits and beyond.
- Provide them a fan to help circulate the air around them. If they are left home in a kennel all day while you are at work, make sure that they are in a cool, dry space with plenty of air circulation. Ensure that they have access to water if they need it and someone should let them out at midday for a potty break.
- Consider having a doggy door so that older pets who are well house trained can come inside to air conditioning and still be able to get outdoors to potty when necessary. This ensures that they’ll be able to stay cool.
- For outside dogs, install misting systems that are designed to cool the air by spraying a fine mist of water into the air. These hook right to a garden hose. They make these systems especially for kennels that are easy to install. These can lower the temperature by as much as 20 degrees in the shade.
- They simply must have access to water 100% of the time, all summer. It’s too hot to not have water and in a matter of hours, a dog can die from dehydration and heat stroke if he hasn’t got adequate access to water and shade.
- If your dog feels hot and is panting and breathing heavily, cook him down rapidly by either submerging his entire body into cool water or placing ice packs on his inner hind legs where his femoral artery is. This will cool the blood as it passes through this very large artery. It will work like a radiator, cooling the body by cooling the blood as it circulates to all vital organs. If you suspect heat stroke, apply the ice packs as described and transport to a veterinary clinic asap.
- Don’t leave your dog outside if at all possible. If you must leave him outdoors, then provide adequate shade and consider installing air conditioning in an outdoor kennel for him. A wall ac unit can be installed for less than $200 that will cool a 10x12 room. A shed with a doggy door can be set-up as a makeshift summer house for your dog that will provide a place where he can seek refuge from the sun.
- Gel cooling mats for dogs are designed to keep cool and help to reduce their body temperature when they lay on this bed.
- Kuranda beds are designed as a raised bed that allows for air circulation underneath them that can help provide some cooling relief to high temperatures as well.
- Do not, under any circumstances, take your dog with you in the car if you are going to go inside a business. Even if you plan on leaving the car running, cars stall, air conditioners don’t work right in a parked car and it can begin getting warm inside as well. Many pet owner has tragically lost their dog to heat stroke by leaving them in a car for too long or assuming that a running car would stay running and cool. Why take the chance when they can be home in the air conditioning?
- Keep pedialyte in the house for them, in the event you need to replace electrolytes quickly. Dogs can have pedialyte if they get overheated. For more ideas on how to keep them hydrated.
- Freeze plain Greek yogurt and peanut butter in ice cube trays and give them these as treats to help them cool-off. Frozen fruits and veggies in ice are a welcome treat and fun thing to play with in the yard. Giving them a block of ice with cheese and carrots frozen into it is a good time and refreshing as well.
- If he is left in a kennel in a home without air conditioning because you have no other choice, leave frozen bottles of water inside the kennel with him and a fan blowing on him. Make sure that the spot is in the shade and low to the floor in a well-ventilated area so that he is getting the coolest air possible.
To Be Safe
Don’t leave your dog outside and go to work in the hot summer months. Getting too hot can cause them to pass out and laying in the sun will finish them off. It can be a deadly choice for them. It’s better for them to be created in the house in excessive heat waves, so they can enjoy the air conditioning and sleep.
Make sure that they have plenty of water and access to it at all times. Don’t take them running with you when it is hot or overly humid. Avoid physical activity outside other than early morning hours or late in the evenings when the sun is going down and the air has cooled off.
Know what your plan of action will be in the event that your dog is overcome by heat. Get them submerged right away as long as they are still conscious. If they’ve lost consciousness, apply ice packs and get them in transport to emergency vetting right away.
Bringing their body temperature down as rapidly as possible is the most important thing. Know the way to your veterinary clinic as well as the weekend emergency clinic near you. Too many people don’t know and this wastes precious time that could save them.
Use Common Sense
The general rule is that if it is too hot for you, it is too hot for them. Avoid walking them on hot pavement. Asphalt gets boiling hot on their feet and can cause severe damage. Only walk on grass when it is hot outdoors.
Keep your dog indoors during the hottest hours of the day. Don’t let them be without water when it is hot. Ensure proper shade and circulating air. Again, if it is too hot for you, it is too hot for them.
Don’t do strenuous activity. Do go swimming, play under a sprinkler, or take a cool dip in a kiddie pool.
Make sure if you take your dog boating with you that you have a floatation device designed for dogs. Make sure that he is secured in the boat so that he can’t fall overboard and if he is secured, not by his throat so that he hangs if he falls over the side. Use common sense.
When the temperatures are excessive and your home is overly hot, consider taking a ride to the local water splash pad at the park and letting your dog cool off there or head to a pet store where you can wander around, socialize, and take advantage of the cool air conditioning.
This heat is hard on us all, but especially on your furry friends. Put some thought into how to keep him cool and you can avoid mishaps and tragedies.