While I personally love the heat, it’s been way too hot outside to do anything. With triple-digit temperatures every day, even taking my dogs for a quick potty walk has been unbearable. If it’s too hot for me then I know it’s definitely too hot for my fur babies! Within just a few minutes of being outside, they start panting pretty heavily. Since panting is the main way a dog cools off, heavy panting isn’t something to ignore. You may not realize it, but heat exhaustion and heat stroke can happen very quickly. In fact, every year thousands of dogs get sick and many die from a heat-related illness.
Luckily, heat stroke is preventable and treatable if action is taken immediately.
Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
First things first, NEVER leave your dog in a parked car … even with the windows cracked open. Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, says:
“On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop, which is potentially fatal.”
On an 85º day, a car can heat up to 104º within just 10 minutes. Within 30 minutes, it can reach almost 120º. Check out this chart to see how quickly vehicle temps can rise:
If you can’t be in the car with your dog the entire time you’re out, do your pooch a favor and keep him safe by leaving him home.
You may think it’s okay to leave your pooch in the car if it’s turned on with the AC blasting. In reality, though, it’s not the best idea. Cars can shut off when you least expect it. Actually, most newer cars are set to shut off after 10 minutes of being idle. Once it’s off, your pup is stuck in the dangerous heat.
If you happen to see a dog in a parked car in the heat don’t ignore it. Get help immediately to get that dog to safety. Watch this news clip to see how quickly heat stroke can become deadly:
Other Do’s and Don’ts:
- ALWAYS make sure your dog has fresh, cold water available.
- ALWAYS make sure there is a shaded area for your dog when he is outside for an extended period. I like to use a raised cot with a canopy. This gets the dog off the ground (protecting his paws) and shields him from the bright hot sun.
- ALWAYS check the ground (pavement or sand) before your pups walk on it. On sunny days, the ground temperature rises very quickly. Sometimes humans aren’t aware of this because we wear shoes and can’t feel the heat. When you walk outside with your dog, take your shoes off and feel the pavement. If it’s too hot for you then it’s too hot for your fur baby too.
- ALWAYS try and walk your dog in the early morning and evening hours when the heat isn’t at its peak.
- DON’T let your dog exercise outside in the extreme heat and humidity. It’s important to remember that dogs can’t control their body temperature like humans can. Their main way of cooling themselves is by panting and they only sweat through their paws and nose. Additionally, the smaller the dog’s snout, the harder time they have cooling themselves off.
- DON’T leave your dog outdoors unattended.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke
- Increased body temperature (normal body temp is anywhere from 101º- 102.5º)
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid respiratory rate
- Excessive drooling
As the dog’s temperature rises the symptoms can become even more severe and possibly deadly:
- Mental status changes, like confusion
- Weakness and stumbling
- Respiratory distress
- Organ failure
What To Do If Your Dog Is Suffering From Heat-Related Illness
If you think that your dog is suffering from a heat-related illness, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke then do the following:
- Remove your dog from the heat source. Get to a shady location or an air-conditioned space if possible.
- Soak towels in cold water (not ice water) and wrap them around your down to bring down his body temperature.
- As long as the dog is awake and alert, offer him something to drink. Don’t let him drink too fast, though.
- NEVER try to give a dog water who is either semi-conscious or unconscious.
- Get your pup checked by a vet immediately, even if you think he is fine.