Summer may not have officially arrived, but outdoor temperatures have been soaring all across the country. Many well-meaning pet owners taking their pooches outside to enjoy nice long walks are noticing their dogs are reluctant to tag along. This veterinarian and author have had several clients comment on their dog’s lack of energy, pep and stamina …
So what’s wrong with Fido?
After careful examinations of these canines from head to tail … We addressed the fact that Pets Don’t Sweat. It’s important to understand that pet heatstroke in dogs and cats can occur in relatively mild outdoor temperatures. For example, combining a fun outing with your dog with a couple of stops at the store, post office, and dropping off dry cleaning may seem like a wonderful way to accomplish your tasks and still have fun with your dog. The problem with this scenario lies in the fact that unless each of your stops is pet-friendly, your canine may be at risk of developing heatstroke.
Inside your vehicle temperatures climb very quickly. Even if it’s only 85 degrees outside, inside your car temps can hit 120 degrees or more in a matter of minutes.
When you add in the humidity it can become a life-threatening situation.
So, what’s a pet owner to do?…
BEAT the HEAT!
Take your dog for a walk early in the morning before 7 AM and after 7 PM, once the peak heat and humidity of the day have subsided.
Always carry an extra supply of water and gauge the length of your walk with your pet’s fitness level.
How can pet owners calculate the correct length of their walks?
Dogs should in general be 4-6 feet ahead of you at all times. The moment Fido’s pace declines, that’s your signal to turn around and head home.
Remember regardless of the temperature you can’t jump off the sofa one day and talk a 5-mile hike the next.
Pets need to gradually increase their level of fitness gradually a little at a time, just like people.
Signs of canine heat stroke in dogs can include:
- Open-mouth breathing
- Bright red gums
- Excessive drooling
- Unsteady gait
Dog breeds with flat faces like Boston’s, Frenchie’s and pugs are more susceptible to the heat than other breeds, as are young pups and older canines.
Dogs with thick hair coats are also more susceptible to outside temperatures than are short, coated breeds. Don’t be afraid to ask your groomer to give Fido a good haircut.
Remember canine hair grows back and in the interim, your pooch will be much cooler and subjected to less skin and haircoat issues.
Pet owners faced with a potential canine heat stroke issue must act fast. Lowering your dog’s body temperature is key and can save your canine’s life.
So, what’s a pet owner to do?
First if possible, bring your dog inside where it’s cool. Soak your pooch down with cool water. A hose, bathtub or shower will suffice. Be sure to wet down your dog’s head, offer cool water to drink and call your vet. Take your dog’s temperature. The normal canine temperature is 101.5. Temperatures exceeding 105 can lead to brain damage. Monitor your dog’s temperature every ten minutes and keep him in cool water until his body temperature has dropped to 103 degrees.
If your dog’s temperature rises while in the cool water, or if he acts differently once his body temperature has returned to normal, seek the advice of an emergency veterinary clinic. It is always smart to have your pet’s veterinarian take a look just to be sure he or she is ok.
Remember, warmer temperatures mean your pet needs extra hydration. Keep plenty of fresh water available, whether you’re staying at home or going away for the day.