Cool Down Your Dog with These 6 Tips (Plus Some Must-Know Warnings)

Heat stroke is among the most common causes of death in dogs

by Guest Blogger, David Huner

The heat stroke is among the most common causes of death in dogs. It’s obvious why that is the case – your four-legged friend is wearing a thick coat even when it’s not winter. In fact, he wears it all the time, even mid-summer when the temperatures can go well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Every year hundreds of dogs die from heatstroke, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can prevent your pup from becoming a part of the statistic. How? By remembering these 6 tips!

1.      Spot the Symptoms

Learning how to recognize the symptoms of a heatstroke is the most important thing you need to do in order to ensure your pup stays alive and well during the hot summer months.

  • Loud panting
  • Fast panting
  • Exhaustion and trembling
  • Vomiting
  • Thick saliva
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Pale tongue and gums

2.      Understanding How Your Dog’s Body Work

If the temperature outside is over 90 degrees, your parked car will get hot really quickly. In less than 10 minutes, the temperature inside the car can go over 100 degrees. And such a temperature can make the dog suffer. The worst thing is that the more time passes, the situation gets worse. In some 30 minutes, the temperature inside the car can go over 120 degrees, which is a temperature that can kill a dog.

Keeping a window rolled down partially won’t help in this situation. It’s because dogs’ bodies are made for cold weather, not tropical temperatures. Because of that, his body temperature is much higher than yours, meaning that the dog himself will be emitting heat into the car interior, canceling out the coolness that might be coming in from the outside through the window.

3.      Understanding the Difference between Overheating and Heatstroke

Heatstroke happens when the body temperature of a dog goes over 109 degrees Fahrenheit. What happens when this margin is crossed is that the heat starts killing cells in his entire body at an incredibly fast rate. The organs that suffer the most from a heatstroke are brain, liver, and kidneys, although other organs are under big risk as well.

Although heatstroke occurs when his body temperature goes over 109 degrees, it doesn’t mean that he’s safe if the temperature is a few degrees lower. Overheating happens when the dog’s body temperature stays higher than normal for a certain period of time. How long it takes before overheating turns into a serious problem depends on many factors, including the breed of the dog.

A thing about overheating is that although it’s not as severe as a heatstroke, it can be really dangerous. It can cause basically the same kind of problems as a heatstroke but only at a slower rate. It can also lead to various skin issues, including rash and hot spots on dogs. The worst thing about overheating is that it’s difficult to spot until it’s too late, that is, until it turns into a heatstroke. The solution is to keep an eye on your dog when the temperature is hot, preferably by using a pet thermometer.

4.      Emergency Help

Sometimes, a heat stroke can happen really suddenly. It takes only a couple of minutes in some cases for the dog’s body temperature to climb over the top. So, even if you do your best to check up on your dog during the scorching summer days, it doesn’t mean the risk of a heatstroke has fallen down to zero.

Once you notice that there’s something wrong going on with your dog, the first thing you need to do is get him away from the heat. For example, if he’s been in a hot car, you need to get him out of it. You might think that the best solution in that case is to crank the air con up, but a sudden temperature drop can cause various other problems, including a heart attack.

Your next step is to give him some water. But, be careful with this – his urge will be to drink as much water as possible. However, that can make him vomit, which can only do worse. In fact, vomiting can speed up the dehydration. Instead, you need to give him only a bit of water to drink, while using the rest to sprinkle it over his body.

In the meantime, you need to do the most important thing of them all – call the vet. When a heatstroke happens, you mustn’t risk anything. Even if you manage to make his body temperature drop a couple of degrees down, or even if you manage to bring the temperature to normal, it doesn’t mean that the danger is over. A heatstroke can leave serious consequences, so better play it safe. The veterinarian should know what to do to ensure your pup is gonna be alright.

5.      How to Prevent a Heatstroke/Overheating?

The key to dealing with heatstroke is in preventing it. Obviously, this means that you mustn’t under any condition leave your pup in a parked car without the AC turned on. Even if you don’t think it’s too hot outside, the temperature can get really high inside the car.

Another thing to remember is to provide fresh drinking water to him. His water bowl needs to be full all the time. But, just pouring water in a large bowl won’t do any good. You need to change it often, because it can get warm quickly and drinking warm water can increase his body temperature even more.

If your dog has a long coat, the summer is the time when you need to give him a haircut.  You also need to adjust his diet to the hot weather. Feeding him too much could make him feel uncomfortable, especially if he eats a large portion in one meal. It’s better to give him two smaller meals than a giant one. Finally, you should also limit the playing time with him during summer, especially in mid-day.

6.      Things Not to Do

Some people decide to think outside the box and try to find a quick solution to cool down their dog. If you think that putting ice cubes in his food could solve the problem, we say no! It can cause a sudden drop of temperature, something that can result in a shock. The same goes for pouring ice-cold water over him. The ice-water bucket challenge is a definite no; it can kill him! And even if it doesn’t kill him, it’s bound to cause psychological trauma.

About the author

David Huner has always been a dog lover, which is why it’s not a surprise that he decided to combine business and pleasure and become a dog trainer. But, keeping his dog-training knowledge to himself was never his plan. Instead, he wanted to share his knowledge with the world, which is why he created a blog called Now he is sharing lots of tips and tricks there.

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