Tips to Keep Your Dog Happy in Hot Summer Weather
Guest post written by Abi Pennavaria
Dogs can get overheated quickly in the summer, especially if they are a breed susceptible to the heat, overweight, elderly, or diabetic. Keep your dog happy in hot summer weather with these tips!
Know if Your Dog is Sensitive to Heat
Some dogs are more susceptible to the heat because of age, breed, or health issues. If your dog is a breed originating from a hot climate, such as a Basenji or Chihuahua, you have less to worry about.
Dog breeds sensitive to hot climates include sub-nosed (brachycephalic) dogs, who have a hard time regulating their body temperature because of their short nasal passages, giant breeds, such as Great Danes, and dogs with double coats, like Chow Chows.
Other reasons your dog may be sensitive to hot weather include if they are overweight or obese, if they are very young or elderly, or if they have a health issue that raises their body temperature, like diabetes.
Keep Your Dog Cool
Whether or not you have a breed that is especially sensitive to the heat, keeping your dog cool in extreme heat can be a challenge. Because dogs don’t sweat, they can have trouble cooling off on their own. Some ways you can help your pup cool down are:
- Set up a kiddie pool in your yard that they can have access to
- If there is no shade in your yard, make some by hanging a tarp, curtain, or shade screen
- Bring a cold water bottle and a collapsible dish for them on your walks
- Put an ice pack or a damp towel out for them to lie on
- Put ice cubes in their water, and refill it often
- Make them frozen dog treats (like these!)
- Keep them inside during the hottest parts of the day, and never walk your dog on hot pavement
- Set up a sprinkler for them to play with outside
- Get a self cooling pet pad or elevated pet bed
Know the Signs of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a real danger in the summertime, and it can be easily overlooked. The signs of a heat stroke include:
- Very rapid panting and breathing
- Slowed movements or fatigue
- Muscle tremors
- Thick saliva, and increased drooling
- A temperature of 103°F or above (normal is 101.5°F)
If you notice your dog is showing signs of a heat stroke, get them into an air conditioned area as soon as possible and contact your veterinarian in case your dog needs IV fluids.
First aid for heat stroke involves cooling off your dog, which can be done by wrapping your dog in cold, wet towels or using ice packs wrapped in towels. You can also use a fan, but keep in mind that you do not want to cool them too rapidly if they are having a heat stroke, because it could send them into shock. Provide cool water and check your dog’s temperature often. You can stop the cooling treatment when your dogs temperature dips below 103°F.
Know the Signs of Dehydration
Like a heat stroke, signs of dehydration are easy to miss. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms in the summertime, and if you suspect your dog is dehydrated, get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you think your dog is not drinking enough water, offer them frozen treats or add ice, low sodium chicken broth, or fruit to their water to encourage drinking. Signs of dehydration include:
- Lethargy or slow movements
- An unusually dry mouth
- Their eyes may appear “sunken in”
- Their skin does not snap back quickly when gently pinched together at the top of the neck
Put the Clippers Down (Probably)
If you have a dog with a double coat, you may be tempted to give them a buzz cut in the summertime to keep them cool. But what you may not know is that their coat can actually keep them cooler by insulating them and protecting them from the sun. Their outer coat also doesn’t shed or molt like their undercoat, and it may take years to get back to their normal appearance.
If you think your dog may benefit from a cut, it is best to consult a professional groomer. They may be able to speed up the molting process, helping your dog cool off.
From heat exhaustion to heatstroke, there are many risks associated with your dog experiencing high summer temperatures. By taking measures to keep your dog cool, you and your dog can enjoy the sunshine all summer long.