Summer may be a very enjoyable time of year for us humans, but for some animals including many dogs, the heat and humidity that arrives during this season is just too much to bare. Unfortunately, our animals can overheat very quickly if we are not careful, and it is much harder for them to cool themselves down. This is largely because dogs cannot sweat like we do.
Why can’t dogs sweat?
since they can only produce sweat on areas not covered with fur, such as the nose and paw pads. Instead, the main way in which canines expel excess heat is through panting. They also do something called vasodilation which is where blood vessels dilate, bringing hot blood to the surface of the skin, allowing for the blood to cool before returning back to the heart.
Unfortunately, these methods of cooling down are not always that efficient, especially when the temperatures are particularly high, or your dog is doing physical exercise. It is very important to recognize the signs that your pet might be overheating so that you can help her before she becomes dangerously unwell.
Some breeds and types of dog are more likely to suffer from overheating than others. This includes flat-faced breeds such as Boxers, Bulldogs and Shih-Tzus, and dogs who are dark-coated, obese or which have suffered from heatstroke before.
Signs that your dog is overheating
If your dog shows any or a combination of the following symptoms when it is hot and humid outside, you should do whatever you can to cool her down immediately. This can include getting her out of the sun, wrapping her in cool, wet towels or blankets and giving her free access to cool fresh water to drink. Then contact our emergency veterinarian.
- Excessive panting
- Red, flushed skin near the muzzle, ears and underbelly
- Thick, ropey saliva in the mouth
- Red-colored gums
- Your pet seems hot to the touch
What can I do to keep my dog cool this summer?
Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to support your pet in staying as cool as possible during the summer months. Here are our top tips:
Provide plenty of shade
It may seem like common sense, but when owners let their dogs out in their backyard, many forget to check that there is adequate shade for their furbaby to escape to when the direct sun gets too hot.
Unlimited access to cool water
Summer is not the time to restrict your dog’s water intake, and you should ensure that you continually top up water bowls with cool, fresh stuff throughout the day. You can even pop some ice cubes into the bowl to help keep it cooler for longer.
Create a mini-waterpark for your pet in your yard
If you have sprinklers or hoses, set them loose on your pet at various points during the day as this will help her to cool down as well as providing plenty of fun!
Be careful when you choose to walk/exercise your dog
Again, it should be common sense, but you should avoid walking your pooch during the hottest part of the day. Stick to early mornings or late evenings when the heat index is low, and the paths are cooler. If you cannot stand on the sidewalk barefoot then it is too hot for your dog’s paws.
Purchase cooling aids
There are a number of different cooling products available and some owners find that they are invaluable during the summer months. These include cooling vests and mats which your dog can lay on. Most people who buy them agree that they are very efficient and a worthwhile investment.
Your dog’s coat can easily become matted at the best of times, but especially when the humidity is high. However, a matted coat retains a great deal more heat than a freshly brushed one. Therefore, try and keep your pet’s coat as short as possible, and groom her daily to get rid of excess hair and dead skin cells, and prevent matting from occurring.
If you would like further advice on the best ways to keep your pet cool this summer, contact us and do not hesitate to consult with our veterinary team.
Lorenzo's Dog Training
Lorenzo’s Dog Training Team has been focused on keeping dogs out of shelters and in happy homes since 1987. Lorenzo’s certified team trainers undergo a comprehensive training curriculum prior to certification to ensure an unwavering commitment to quality animal care and professional conduct.