How to take care of your dog on hot days
Updated: Nov 13, 2021
In the summer, during hot days, we must take care of our dog and take care of his well-being and health. Let’s remember that we must observe our pet and think for him, taking into account other important circumstances such as age, health, length and colour of the coat, breed or carcass. There are dogs more and less resistant to heat. The heat is especially dangerous for puppies, older or sick dogs. High temperatures exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory failure. That is why dogs of brachycephalic breeds (that is, those with shortened mouths) such as boxers, bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese, Shih-Tzu etc. require special care on hot days. Ultraviolet rays can also pose a significant threat to dogs without furs such as the Chinese crested dog, Mexican naked dog or Peruvian naked dog. Normal elements can turn dangerous such as too hot asphalt, overheated cars or playing too much with water. No matter what pooch you have at home, you must remember a few important things when the heat is pouring from the sky.
How does the dog cool down?
Dogs are much worse at cooling the body than humans. We cool the entire surface of the body by sweating. In contrast, dogs only have sweat glands between their toes. When they are stressed, we can observe the damp marks they leave on the floor. However, this is definitely too small a surface to cool the whole body. Therefore, dogs have a different mechanism of temperature loss and do so mainly by panting. However, at very high temperatures, panting and draining excess heat through the paws and well-vascularized ears may not be enough. This can lead to overheating of the dog’s body and even to stroke.
The dog sends the most heat through the muzzle, ears and paws, which can be seen on a thermal imaging camera. (builditsolar.com)
Exposure of the animal to high temperatures can cause overheating of the body, in the extreme case of heatstroke, which is an emergency that requires immediate diagnosis and immediate treatment. A healthy dog, depending on the breed and age, should have a temperature of 37.5 ° C to 38.5 ° C. Overheating is when the dog’s internal body temperature exceeds 39 ̊C. One of the main causes of weakening thermoregulation is excessive exposure to sunlight and / or limited air movement and excessive physical exertion in adverse weather conditions. It is particularly important to take into account the predispositions of a given breed or type of dog. It can be assumed that brachycephalic dogs, as well as very young or elderly, obese, with dark coat are less able to cope with high temperature. In addition, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and possible lack of acclimatization to new environmental conditions should be taken into account.
Symptoms of overheating are, among others:
increased heart rate
hyperemia of the mucous membranes and gums
drooling with thick saliva
The critical point of body temperature increase is 42.7 ̊C, when they may appear:
lack of appetite
ischemia and necrosis of organs
loss of consciousness
These symptoms are quite non-specific and may also appear with other diseases. Characteristic of stroke is the onset of symptoms. So if your pooch behaved normally for a long time and suddenly there was diarrhoea, vomiting, apathy, excessive panting or loss of consciousness, then you can suspect heatstroke.
Know the signs of a heat stroke at your dog — Central Veterinary Clinic
What to do if a dog gets a stroke?
As soon as you see the first symptoms, react!
First, find a shady and cool place (e.g. cool tiles) in which the dog can be placed and begin to gradually lower his body temperature. Additionally, you can use house fans.
Too rapid cooling of the dog can lead to thermal shock. Therefore, pouring cold water on it or covering it with ice is not the best idea. It’s best to use wet towels or wrap the ice cubes with the material. We apply cold compresses mainly to the dog’s head. Remember that dogs lose the most heat through their mouths and ears. Alternatively, you can cool the belly of the dog with for example a wet towel. The next step should be going to the vet who will give the dog professional help.
If you are going on holiday with your dog, look for the nearest vet before leaving. Therefore, it is best to look for a clinic open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
How to survive hot days at home.
Heatstroke is not the only threat during hot days. We must also watch out for dehydration of the dog’s body. First of all, let’s make sure that the dog has constant access to water and there is no risk of dehydration. If you keep your dog in the yard, make sure the water bowl is full several times a day. Dogs can drink much more at high temperatures. They can also simply spill water and stay without drinking for a long time. To prevent spillage, you can use appropriate stands and / or set up a spare bowl.
On hot days, it is very important to provide the dog with a cool, shady place. The first thing that comes to mind is the installation of air conditioning, but if we can not afford it, it is worth reaching for other ways. If we leave the dog alone at home, do not close it in a small, stuffy room. It is best if the dog has access to cool surfaces such as ceramic tiles or a spread wet towel, the windows should be shaded with blinds to avoid excessive sunlight. A fan can be used, but you need to make sure that its location does not pose a threat to the dog or disturbs it. It’s also a good idea to unfold the dog a cooling mat on which it can lie down and cool down a bit. This mat is filled with a special coolant that is activated by the weight of the dog. There are also mats that need to be left in the fridge for a few hours to cool down and then you can use them. The cooling mat is certainly a better and more convenient solution than a wet towel because it cools the dog for a long time. It is also good to let your dog wear a cooling vest. A way to increase water uptake and also to diversify the time is to give the dog ice cubes, but their size must be adjusted individually to prevent swallowing, and also ensure that they do not cause throat diseases, which can occur for very sensitive dogs. If you have a garden, take care of access to the shaded place. I possible install a sprinkler or leave a special pool at the dog’s disposal. Nothing cools a dog on hot days like a refreshing bath.
If your pooch spends time in the yard, make sure he has a shadow in which he can hide from the heat. A wooden doghouse is not the best shelter for a dog, because it heats up quickly and poorly ventilates. Kennels with a metal roof is a real oven for a dog that quickly heats up to dangerous temperatures.
Always provide water for your dog on hot days — Photo by Ryan Christodoulou on Unsplash
How to ensure a comfortable walk.
On particularly hot days, you need to limit both the length of walks and minimize the physical effort of the dog, which significantly increases body temperature. Do not force the dog to physical activity on very hot and stuffy days and hours when the sun shines most strongly (between about 11.00 and 17.00). During these hours we can only go with the dog for a short walk so that the pooch can take care of his physiological needs. Let’s plan a longer walk in the evenings or early morning, and choose the route so that it runs in the shade. In hot weather, do not encourage the pooch to additional activities during walks. Let’s not throw him a ball or sticks. Let’s also limit active games with other dogs. I advise against playing dog sports or taking a dog for a bike ride in the heat. If your pooch is full of energy at home, I recommend making his brain tired by training the basics of obedience or olfactory play.
In recent years, many places have become dog friendly. Dogs’ bowls with water are increasingly being displayed in front of gas stations or local shops. Still, it’s worth taking your water supply and travel bowl with you, and not letting your dog drink water from roadside puddles that may be chemically or microbiologically contaminated, and thus contribute to poisoning your dog.
When going with a dog for a walk, we should always remember to bring drinking for ourselves and our pooches.
Dog paws and asphalt
Dog paws also deserve special attention, as they can be burned on hot asphalt. Of course, it is best to avoid places that can be dangerous, and for walks choose rather shady lawns. However, when we hit hot asphalt, the best solution is simply to move the dog.
To make sure that the surface on which we walk is not too hot, it is best to press your hand against it for about 10 seconds. You will notice soon enough whether it is too hot or not!
If we have a large, heavy dog that we cannot lift, I advise you to get special dog shoes. Of course, we need to calmly get used to walking in such shoes first around the house, and only then take a walk in them.
With direct sun, no wind and low humidity, you can assume the temperatures below. Outside temperature: 25 ° C = temperature of the asphalt: 51.6 ° C Outside temperature: 30 ° C = temperature of the asphalt: 57.2 ° C Outside temperature: 30.5 ° C = temperature of the asphalt: 61.7 ° C In addition: at 51.6 ° C the skin is scorched within 60 seconds, at 55 ° C you can bake an egg within 5 minutes. If your dog has white or pink paw pads, pay extra attention. These are more sensitive and therefore damage faster.
Hot streets can burn dogs feet. — Peta
Do not use these devices
As I mentioned earlier — the dog cools itself by strangling. By preventing the dog from panting, we condemn him to overheating. Therefore, it is unacceptable to use veterinary muzzles during everyday walks or public transport journeys, especially on hot days. They are usually made of nylon, fastened with Velcro and tightly surrounding the muzzle. By tightly adhering to the mouth, they prevent the dog not only from biting but also from panting. These types of muzzles can work during a short surgery in a veterinary office, but they are not suitable for everyday use, especially when it is hot. if we have to use a muzzle, the best is physiological.
Other walking equipment that should not be used on hot days is metal collars that can heat up very quickly.
Muzzles can be a real danger to dogs on hot days
The danger of cooling down with water
In hot weather, water is indicated in every form. If your pooch likes swimming, it’s worth going to the lake or river with him. Many people provide games with water or swimming pools for dogs at home. Some days ago I stumbled on this testimonial:
Yesterday it was very warm and like many people we played with the water hoose. My dog loved it, she played, jumped and enjoyed the water. And yet …. This afternoon she was lying dead in my arms I woke up at night and wen to her, she was laying with a bloated stomach, she did not move, she tried to vomit and has not touched her bowl anymore .. I immediately called the emergency vet who tells me to come over quickly. I drove there in 10 minutes -the longest 10 minutes of my life. I arrived, rang the bell and I felt her last breath in my arms … she’s gone … I’m crying … I don’t understand. … she was fine, she was so lively and happy the day before … a heat stroke? Poisoned? I really wonder what happened! I needed to know, so the vet suggested an autopsy… The verdict: she died of a twisted stomach! A stomach tilt. It was full of water and now I realize I killed her .. Beware of the water hoose game, the dog swallows a lot of water and jumps at the same time … and can easily get a stomach tilt. I didn’t know, I didn’t know it was possible, so I’m warning you.
With this warm weather, we often play exuberantly with water to cool our four-legged friends, delicious… but beware! Sometimes dogs, for example by playing with the garden hose, ingest so much water that water poisoning occurs and that is a serious, life-threatening condition! When more water comes in than the body can process, the blood and other substances in the body become diluted, which among other things disturbs the salt balance. This causes body cells to swell, which can have major consequences for the brain. Contact the vet for any of the following symptoms and explain what you think may have happened. Many vets do not know this image, but it is life-threatening. The diagnosis is possible by looking at the salinity of the blood.
Pale mucous membranes
Dogs having fun while swimming - Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash
Swimming in the sea
Many dogs drink water in which they swim. Because seawater is salty, the dog becomes more thirsty — making him want to drink more of it. In addition, with the dry licking of the coat, he also gets salt. Salt causes irritation to the gastrointestinal tract and can result in large amounts of salt poisoning.
Symptoms of salt poisoning are:
loss of appetite
In a severe form, neurological complaints such as:
accelerated heartbeat and breathing,
slow or irritable and seizures.
Eventually, the dog may fall into a coma and die.
Prevent salt poisoning
Prevent the dog from ingesting (too much) saltwater.
Bring drinking water for the dog and leave it here for swimming and drinking in between.
After swimming, rinse it with freshwater and rub it dry, this will make it lick less on the coat.
If the dog continues to drink from the seawater, it is better to keep him away from the water.
How to act in salt poisoning
Give the dog taught little bits of drinking water.
Go to a vet immediately.
This topic, unfortunately, returns every year and every year we deal with dogs that have died due to the lack of responsibility of their guardians who left them locked in the car. It doesn’t matter how long we leave the dog and whether we open the windows or not, the car can become a death trap for the dog. The interior of the car heats up very quickly to temperatures dangerous for the dog. Remember that dog cooling mechanisms are not as efficient as ours. That is why dogs tolerate high temperatures much worse. Never leave the dog in a closed car under any circumstances, even if the outside temperature is moderate or the car is left in the shade. In a very short time, the interior of the car can heat up rapidly, up to 60 ̊C, which leads to heatstroke.
Don’t cook your dog! — Dogs Today
If you see that someone has locked a dog in the car, react! Call the police or city guard. The relevant services are obliged to come and react in this situation. If there is no other way and the dog’s condition is severe, break the glass and save the dog’s life. Leaving a dog at a high temperature in a car is the mistreatment of an animal, for which, according to the Act on the Protection of Animal Rights, it faces up to 2 years in prison.
When transporting a dog by car, it is advisable to turn on air conditioning. It is also important to place the dog in the shade and ensure that he does not sit directly on a black, sun-warmed hammock mat hung between the seats. Make sure you have access to water.
cars heat up faster than you think
Dog care in hot weather
If you are a guardian of hairless dog breeds (Chinese Crested Dog, Mexican dog or Peruvian dog) or dogs with pink noses and ears (usually white or albino), you must protect your pet’s skin from UV radiation. Such dogs are most at risk of sunburn. Special creams with a filter for dogs work well here. I do not recommend using human sun creams for a dog’s skin, because our pH and pH of dogs are completely different. The reaction of human skin is usually 5.5, whereas in dogs it is more alkaline. Depending on the breed, the pH of the dog’s skin is between 6.5 and 8.4.
Many dog keepers, especially those with thick hair, cut them short. It turns out that this is not a good idea at all. Downy fur can be a great insulator and protect your dog from overheating. However, it is important to properly care for your coat on hot days. Let’s remember about combing the pooch thoroughly and getting rid of the dead undercoat after the autumn and winter season. Thanks to this, the dog will not heat up, and the groomed coat will well insulate him from high temperatures. If your dog’s fur has a tendency to tangle on your stomach or armpits, you can slightly shorten it. However, a short haircut is not a good solution.
Shaving dogs completely can contribute to direct contact of the sun’s rays with the skin, and thus to its burns.
Water constitutes about 70–80% of the dog’s lean body mass, a decrease in hydration below 5% of the norm may already pose a threat to the dog’s health, while by 15–20% even a threat to life. Daily water demand should always be determined individually, average values of 20–50 ml for each kilogram of body weight are assumed. During hot weather and intense exercise, the demand increases, but if the dog drinks more than 90 ml/kg bw / day, this indicates excessive thirst (polydipsia). Although dogs do not sweat the entire surface of the skin like a human, they excrete water from the body while panting, which is designed to cool the body, as well as sweating paw pads and of course urine, faeces, or vomiting. Excessive dehydration is associated not only with the loss of water but also of electrolytes (e.g. sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium chlorides). The first signs of dehydration are dry mouth and loss of skin elasticity. A healthy dog has supple skin — when we grab it with our fingers on the dog’s back, it will almost immediately return to its place. The more severe the dehydration of the body, the slower the skin returns to its original position. Further symptoms of dehydration are eye collapse, extended capillary filling time, circulatory failure and weakness. In the case of slight dehydration, it is recommended to give the electrolyte solution in several smaller portions, which can be bought e.g. in a pharmacy. With more severe dehydration or if the dog vomits after electrolyte or the dog’s condition does not improve, the assistance of a veterinarian is necessary.
Photo by Mel Elías on Unsplash