Are the Dog Days of Summer Safe for Your Canine Companion?
We all look forward to the weather warming up so that we can spend the days outside running around with our four-legged friends. It's easy to forget about the precautions to take before venturing out to make sure that your pup is happy and healthy in the heat.
How Hot is Too Hot?
There is no universal perfect temperature for dogs, but they can operate at about the same temperatures as a person. Keep in mind that, despite their fur coat, dogs are still sensitive to the environment. Their foot pads will burn when traveling across asphalt roads, cement surfaces or other materials that absorb the heat. The sun can turn any skin that isn't covered by fur into red and painful sores. Keep in mind that dogs only have sweat glands in their paws, shedding their excess heat through rapid inhalation that sends cool air through their body.
Signs of Heat-Related Issues
Heavy panting that continues is the first sign of your dog becoming too hot. If the heat continues, they may show signs of agitation such as whining and fidgeting or become unusually lethargic. The next signs are swelling of the gums and other soft tissues, drooling while panting, movement that appears as if they are inebriated and signs of shock. From there, the symptoms become increasingly more serious and deadly, including vomit with blood, seizures and cardiac arrest. Checking your dog's heart rate is one of the best indicators of their heat level, so perform frequent examinations using the beats per minute to monitor how they are processing the temperature.
Preventing Heat Stroke
First, limit your outdoor excursions to temperatures below 100 degrees, and keep an eye on the humidity as well. At temperatures above 90, try to keep them limited to shorter bursts of play with plenty of rest between each session. Dogs with thicker coats will retain more heat and warm up faster, so be willing to shift those temperatures down a few degrees for them. Be aware that puppies and older dogs will be more sensitive, just as human children and seniors are. If your outings don't take place near an accessible body of water, keep a spare bottle on hand to use for cooling your companion down in case they seem to be overheating. Immediately take your dog to a cooler place if you detect a racing or irregular heartbeat or any other sign of heat stroke.
Is Your Home Endangering Your Dog?
If your home's AC is broken or running poorly, the temperature inside your home could contribute to the onset of heat-related illnesses in your dog. All it will take is one unusually hot day while your AC is underperforming or suffers a preventable fault like freezing over, and you may come home to find your beloved companion suffering from heat stroke. Don't neglect to have your HVAC system inspected and repaired by an experienced professional.