The dog days of summer here, temperatures are rising, and we all – pets included – find ourselves looking for ways to help a dog in the heat. In this quick guide, we’re offering three simple ways to keep your dog cool in hot weather, plus we’ll teach you how to tell if your dog is overheating.
Why Dogs Are at Risk of Overheating
We humans have exceptional built-in cooling systems, complete with sweat glands that cover most areas of our bodies and produce moisture which provides a cool sensation as it evaporates.
Dogs are different. According to Dr. Justine Lee of Pet Health Network, dogs only have a few sweat glands, mostly located in their paw pads, so the main method of eliminating excess dog heat is panting.
Dr. Lee mentions that vasodilation is another way how dogs release excess heat. In vasodilation, hot blood is circulated to the surface of the skin where it has an opportunity to pool before returning to the heart. As you might imagine, this mechanism is far less effective keeping the dog cool in hot weather.
How to Tell if the Dog is Hot and Why Overheating is So Dangerous for Dogs
According to the experts at American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, dehydration and overheating can lead to organ failure, stroke, heart failure, and death. Knowing the signs that your dog is overheating can help prevent a tragedy.
Keeping the dog cool is as much about ensuring their health and safety as it is about making sure that they’re comfortable. The Canine Health Foundation says that pet parents should watch for:
- More panting than normal
- Thick saliva in the mouth
- The dog feels hot to the touch
- Moist paws
- Flushed skin around the muzzle, ears, and underbelly
- Signs that overheating is at a dangerous level include:
- Dry mouth, nose, and gums
- Fast, loud breathing (far worse than panting)
- Bright red or blue gums
Three Easy Ways to Keep Your Dog Cool in Hot Weather
Animal health experts at Pet MD offer common-sense strategies for keeping the dog cool at a comfortable temperature when the mercury rises. A cool environment is key, says Dr. Joanna Pendergrass DVM. She recommends treating your dog to a cooling mat or having them rest on a cool tile floor. Add a fan to keep air circulating if your dog seems to be too hot. Outdoors, shade is essential. Never leave your dog in the sun with no escape.
Vets Now recommends making careful decisions about when to exercise to keep the dog cool in summer, noting that it’s important to avoid too much activity in the heat of the day. Consider walking your dog early in the morning before temperatures rise or in the evening as everything cools down.
Keep Your Dog Well-Hydrated
Veterinarians at Vets Now and Pet MD agree that hydration is vital to keeping the dog cool. Make sure they always have water available and carry water along with a collapsible bowl when you head out for a walk or a longer hike. This way, you’ll never find yourself searching for a safe water source where your dog can get a drink.
If you like, you can also take into account one more tip for keeping the dog cool – make “pupsicles” with a bit of low-salt broth and an ice cube tray. Pour the broth into the tray, let it freeze overnight, and treat your dog to a cube or two. You can add your dog’s favorite treats to the cubes or go big by filling a Kong or a similar toy with treats or natural peanut butter and then dropping it into a freezer-safe bowl filled with low-salt broth. This is a fantastic outdoor snack that’ll help the dog stay cool while getting a bit of fresh air.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to keep the dog from overheating. With just a little bit of planning and a focus on hydration, it’s easy keep the pet safe during the hottest months of the year. Hope our tips for keeping the dog cool will help you!