With the warm weather of summer approaching, the potential for dog overheating is on the horizon. Dog owners should be aware of the early signs and how to prevent this problem in the first place since overheating can quickly progress to an emergency that can become fatal.
While pet insurance can help if your dog gets sick, it’s much better to prevent anything terrible from happening in the first place. This article will cover the symptoms to be aware of and how to avoid overheating.
Signs a Dog Is Overheating
Every dog owner should be aware of the symptoms of canine overheating and dehydration because they are linked. Your dog’s cooling system relies on panting, and for panting to be effective, your friend needs to be hydrated.
On a warm day, if your pup gets dehydrated, heat exhaustion or heat stroke is likely soon to follow.
Dehydration in Dogs
- Dry nose
- Excessive panting
- Gum pinch test
- Lethargy or loss of appetite
- Skin loses its elasticity
- Sunken eyes
- Tacky or dry gums
The gum pinch test is easy. Gently pinch an area of gums that is usually pink until it turns white, then let go. The whiteness should quickly disappear as the blood in the capillaries returns. If the white lingers for more than a few seconds, it is a sign that your canine may be dehydrated.
To check for skin elasticity, grab some of the loose skin on the back of your pet’s neck. If you find that it doesn’t bounce back into position quickly and easily, there is a good chance your dog is dangerously dehydrated.
If you are unable to get your dog rehydrated quickly, or are not sure what caused the dehydration, get your canine companion to the vet because it may be a sign of a severe medical condition that needs immediate treatment.
Overheating in Dogs
You need to notice the early signs of overheating to stop dehydration and overheating before it gets serious. If allowed to progress to the heat stroke stage, overheating can quickly become fatal. Take action if you notice these signs:
- Excessive panting: This is any panting that won’t stop or is faster or more intense than normal.
- Swollen Tongue: The tongue thickens to try to get more cooling action out of panting.
- Change in color or texture of the gums: Sometimes gums turn bright red, other times blue or purple, or the gums become sticky or dry.
- Dehydration: Any of the signs of dehydration mentioned above.
- Loss of mental faculties: You may notice signs of confusion, disorientation, glazed over eyes, or being less responsive to commands.
- Vomiting or diarrhea: Watch your dog to catch these signs.
- Loss of consciousness or convulsions: This is a serious sign of a problem. Get help immediately.
- Rectal temperature over 103 degrees: You may not be able to check this yourself unless you have a thermometer.
Notice that these symptoms above go from mild to severe. If your dog is showing any signs from loss of mental faculties or beyond, immediate veterinary care is critical.
How to Cool Down a Dog That Is Overheating
While it may be tempting to fast cool your overheating dog with icy water (either an ice bath or offering ice water), this can send their system into shock.
Instead, follow these guidelines:
- Get them to a cool area.
- Use a fan on your dog.
- Offer fresh cool water.
- Use a wet towel to cool down the neck area, ears, foot pads, under the armpits, between the back legs, and belly areas.
If the excessive panting does not stop or you notice the more advanced symptoms listed above, get your dog to the vet immediately. Call the vet on your way so that they can prepare emergency treatments.
Dog Breeds That Are Prone to Overheating
While all breeds of canine are capable of overheating to dangerous levels, certain breeds are particularly susceptible to getting hot when active in the warm summer weather. Breeds that have flat faces such as French bulldogs, pugs, boxers, Shih Tzus, and the other usual suspects are known as brachycephalic breeds.
As a result of their already limited airways, be extra vigilant with furry friends with those cute little flat faces, especially in warm weather. Make sure to have a cooldown plan in place when the weather turns balmy.
Prevention: 5 Tips to Keep Your Dog From Overheating
Because an overheating dog can rapidly progress into heat exhaustion and even the potentially fatal stage of heat stroke quickly, prevent the situation from happening in the first place.
While enjoying the summer weather with your furry friend, use these tips to keep them cool.
5.) Decide Whether to Trim Your Dog’s Hair
When you have to wear a fur coat year round, it can be uncomfortable as the weather warms. However, there are a few myths about trimming a dog’s coat you should know.
Some dogs are fluffy. They have thick coats and often a layer of downy fur underneath that sheds in the spring. Examples include German shepherds, huskies, and chows. With these types of dogs, you will notice that their fur gets to a certain length and stops growing on its own.
While many well-meaning owners think it is helpful to shave such dogs down during the summer weather, this is not the case. The outer coat provides protection from UV rays and even a layer of insulation to block out some of the heat.
Unless instructed by a vet, don’t trim breeds with this type of coat. Take extra precaution to make sure dogs that wear a fluffy fur coat have adequate shade and access to air conditioning in the warm summer months.
On the other hand, some breeds such as poodles, Yorkshire terriers, and schnauzers have hair that will grow indefinitely unless trimmed with a good pair of clippers. These breeds do benefit from regular trimming, with shorter cuts in the warm summer weather.
4.) Get Great Products to Keep Your Pooch Cool
With millennials spending more on their dogs than previous generations, the market for specialized dog products has gone through the roof. This is great news if you have a furry friend because it has never been easier to make sure she stays cool in the dog days of summer.
Here are a few great ideas to check out.
If you are planning a camping trip this summer, this folding mat requires no electricity, which is a big bonus for your off-grid outdoor adventures.
It uses a non-toxic gel that is pressure activated to provide cooling comfort for your dog.View on Amazon
Just wet this bandana down thoroughly, then toss it in the freezer. Once it is thoroughly chilled, use the handy Velcro strips to fit it around your dog’s neck.
It is stylish and functional – the neck of your canine companion is one of the best areas to cool because of the large amount of blood that flows through this area.View on Amazon
Swamp Cool Vest
Great for hiking, this vest keeps your pup cool through evaporation. Do note that this vest has to be wet to keep working, so bring a little extra water on your walk to make sure it doesn’t get dry.
The exterior is bright orange and made of reflective material for outstanding visibility in all conditions.View on Amazon
3.) Provide Cooling Shade
Whether your dog is spending time in the backyard or you are enjoying some outdoor activities, make sure your dog always has access to shade. It may sound obvious, but it is an easy detail to overlook. For example, large trees may only provide shade that is accessible to your dog at certain times of the day.
Note that many dog houses will get even hotter during the summer, particularly if they are in the full sun. On the other hand, specially designed elevated shade dog beds can be a nice addition to your dog’s backyard digs in the summer.
2.) Get a Backyard Doggie Pool
Providing a pool is a great way to make sure your dog can cool off in the hot weather. If you are looking for something for the backyard, the hard plastic kiddie pools you find at your local big box store are a cheap alternative that will hold up for at least a few years.
On the other hand, if you are looking for something you can take with you to your summer vacation destination, there are collapsible doggie pools that will fit the bill.
Empty and refill these pools every few days. Otherwise, the standing water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects that can spoil your backyard fun.
1.) Use DIY Ice Blocks
If you have some extra space in your freezer, one of the best cool treats you can provide your pup is a flavored ice block to enjoy during the hottest parts of the day. You can use three parts water and one part low-sodium chicken broth or Pedialyte (which add vital electrolytes) poured into a large plastic container.
Fill the container halfway full and freeze until solid. Then, toss in a few pieces of kibble or dog treats, and fill the rest of the way. This will hide a special surprise deep in the block to keep your dog interested!
Use these tips to help keep your dog cool and healthy this summer.
Author Bio: Sharon is a professional writer and received her M.S. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and has worked as a professional dog trainer for over ten years.