You likely know the feeling of being absolutely drenched in sweat on a sweltering day. While excessive sweating can be quite inconvenient, it does have a purpose. Sweating is one of your body’s protective mechanisms used to cool you down when you face the risk of overheating. Unfortunately, unlike you, your dog is unable to sweat. Instead, overheated dogs try to cool themselves by panting.
Excessive panting, along with drooling, a rapid heartbeat, labored breathing, dizziness, and weakness are signs of overheating and dehydration. If left untreated, overheating can progress to heatstroke - a far more serious, and potentially fatal, condition. If you spot these signs, you should move your dog to a cool location and contact your vet immediately.
To protect your dog from the dangers of overheating and heatstroke, you must think ahead and employ strategies to keep your dog cool long before symptoms of heat-related illness appear. Following are a few guidelines to follow to stay safe during the hot and humid dog days of summer.
Avoid the hottest hours of the day by limiting your outdoor excursions to the early morning or late evening hours. Scheduling your walks for these “non-peak” hours will be more comfortable for both you and your dog. Additionally, remember to keep your walks short and to always carry plenty of water - enough for both you and your dog.
A parked car bathed by scorching rays of sunlight basically transforms into an oven after just a few short hours. On an 85 degree day, the temperature inside of your car can exceed 100 degrees in a mere 10 minutes, and even reach 120 degrees after just 30 minutes have passed. Never leave your dog in a parked car - even a few brief moments in that car can pose a risk that you should not be willing to take.
When you venture outside with your dog, seek out locations that offer plenty of shade. Areas, like parks, with an abundance of grass and trees are optimal. Trees provide a protective cover from some of the sun’s rays without limiting airflow, while grass offers an optimal surface for walks - especially when compared to pavement and asphalt that can reach temperatures hot enough to damage your dog’s delicate paws.
Whether you are heading out for a walk or simply lounging in your backyard, keep plenty of fresh, cool water readily available. You can even toss in a few ice cubes to further chill your water. Once you guard against dehydration, you can take your use of water as a “heat protection tool” even a step further.
Encourage your dog to take a dip in the lake during your next visit to the dog park. Stuck at home without access to a lake? Plastic child-sized pools are inexpensive and provide a perfect personal oasis for your pup on a hot and humid day.