Don't Sweat the Heat
Our dogs are eager to please us, and if we ask them to jog, hike or play catch, they'll do it with enthusiasm – even on the hottest days. However, heat stress is a serious concern for pets, particularly outdoor-loving dogs. Rising temperatures and sometimes high humidity levels can quickly cause our four-legged friends to overheat, leading to potentially deadly heatstroke. As summer heats up, it's crucial for you to closely monitor your pups' behavior. Be proactive and attentive to ensure their safety and well-being.
Staying Safe in the Sizzle
Keep them hydrated: Hydration is vital for your pet's health, especially during summer months when dehydration can creep up swiftly. Stay on top of their fluid intake by making sure your pet always has access to clean water, both indoors and outside. Spice up their hydration routine by adding bone broth to their food, offering water-rich snacks, or treat them with nutritious frozen goodies!
Provide a Cool Haven: In warm weather, your pet should always have access to shade and fresh water. Regular breaks in an air-conditioned space can help them cool down. Outdoor spots like beneath trees or a well-ventilated porch where air circulates freely can also provide natural shade and a comfortable sanctuary from the blazing sun.
The Great Shave Debate: Shaving your dog may seem like a good idea to help them stay cool, but it can actually be harmful to breeds with a double coat, like Labradors or Collies. These coats are designed to keep them warm in winter but also cool in summer. As a rule of thumb, it's safe to shave single-coated breeds like Poodles or Beagles. For more information, check out: To Shave or Not to Shave.
Exercise with Caution: When walking your dog, opt for early morning or evening hours when temperatures are lower. Be aware of hot pavement, which can heat up to 140 degrees even in 80-degree weather, potentially burning your pet's paws and causing them to overheat rapidly. Choose cooler surfaces, grassy paths, or use dog booties for hot walks.
Never Leave Your Dog in a Car: Even on a seemingly mild day, the temperature inside a car can rise to dangerous levels quickly, regardless of whether the air conditioner is on. If you're uncertain they'll be safe and cool where you're headed, they'd be better off staying at home.
High-Risk Breeds: Breeds with flat faces and short noses, long-haired breeds, puppies and older dogs, overweight and obese dogs, and those with chronic health conditions like heart disease, laryngeal paralysis, and hypothyroidism are at higher risk.
Baseline Temperature: Knowing your dog's body temperature is a crucial health indicator. The normal temperature range is 99.5-102.5°F. If it climbs to 103°F, act quickly - your furry friend might be at risk of heatstroke. Use a digital rectal or ear thermometer for pets and familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heat stress.
Recognizing and Treating Heatstroke
If your dog's temperature exceeds 103 degrees or if they show signs of heatstroke such as heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive drooling, dry mucous membranes, bright red gums, hot skin, and an increased heart rate, stop all activities and help your dog lower their body temperature:
- Move your dog to a cool, well-ventilated area.
- Offer small sips of cool or warm water.
- Gently spray or sponge them down with cool (not cold) or tepid water, focusing on their underside.
- Use a fan to blow cool air on them.
- Do not immerse your dog in cold water.
- Avoid using ice or ice-cold water, as it can constrict blood vessels and hinder heat dissipation.
If you're unable to bring your pup's temperature back into the normal range, take them to a vet immediately. Dogs severely affected by heatstroke require fluids, medication, support, and oxygen. Prompt action and appropriate treatment can mean the difference between a quick and full recovery and long-term complications.
Summer Safety is No Accident
The key to a safe summer is being proactive rather than reactive. Prevention is, without a doubt, the best way to keep your pet from overheating. Proper hydration, providing a cool, shady environment, and limiting outdoor activities during peak heat hours are the most effective ways to prevent your pet from overheating. Remember, summer should be a fun time for your pet, not a dangerous one. So let them splash in a sprinkler or a baby pool, and treat them to frozen yogurt from our freezer section or make your own dog-approved ice cream – both available at Fetch.