We love adorable pet pictures and heart-warming dog stories, but this time of year, we want to share some information that’s a little more serious. July and August are the hottest months in Indiana, and while many of us are mentally shifting gears to fall, we still have some warm days ahead.
Your dog’s safety is our top priority at the Good Dog Hotel & Spa, and so we wanted to share some information and tips to help keep your dog healthy before temperatures cool in the fall. If you have additional thoughts on the subject, we’d love to hear about them. And as always, it’s best to consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns with your pet’s well-being.
Dog Breeds That Feel the Heat
Some breeds need a little extra TLC these final weeks of summer. Those with short, or snub noses are particularly vulnerable, including French bulldogs, pugs and Shih Tzu. That’s because they can quickly overheat as they struggle to pant sufficiently. Panting is how they regulate their temperature, and short-nosed breeds have excess soft tissue around their airways that can impede regulation.
Dog Breeds That Can Tolerate Heat
The general rule of thumb is that dogs with thin, short coats do the best in heat. Typical breeds include Beagles, Chihuahuas, and Dalmatians. In addition, breeds that originated in hot climates or are used for coursing are naturally resistant to heat. Their long noses cool the air, and their larger lungs and hearts better distribute oxygen through their bodies. This could include breeds like Whippets, Greyhounds and Salukis.
Signs of Overheating
Your dog might be struggling with the heat if you notice the following symptoms:
- Difficulty with walking
- Slower walking
- Change in rate or depth of breathing
Signs of Dehydration
- Dry mouth
- Sunken eyes
- Gently pinch a fold of skin at the top of the neck. Is it slow to snap back?
If you think your dog is dehydrated, offer clean, cool water. If you are concerned your dog isn’t drinking enough water, try a different bowl, or add some ice chips, a splash of chicken broth or carrot juice, or pieces of a favorite fruit to encourage drinking.
Signs of dehydration aren’t always easy to spot, so if in doubt, contact your vet immediately.
Signs of Heatstroke
- Raised temperature (101.5° is normal)
- Rapid breathing and panting
- Excess salivation and thickened saliva
- Fatigue or depression
- Muscle tremors
If you notice any signs of heatstroke, get your dog to a cool location and contact your veterinarian.
Turn on a fan, and wrap your dog in cold wet towels, especially around the underarm, belly and groin areas.
Check your dog’s temperature every five minutes and end the cooling treatment when the temperature is down to 103°. Be careful not to cool your dog too too rapidly to avoid shock. Provide cool water, but don’t force your dog to drink.
General Tips for Keeping Your Dog Cool
There are lots of things pet owners can do to help keep dogs safe during the hot weeks ahead. Obviously, keeping your dog inside or shaded areas as much as possible is a good first step. You’ll also want to cut down daily dog walks and playtime during daylight to avoid overheating. In addition:
- Consider taking your dog to daycare where there is plenty of indoor space to play and exercise.
- Have cold water available always.
- Set up a fan in your house for cooling off.
- Consider providing cooling mats or jackets for your pooch.
- Offer an ice pack or wet towel to lay down on.
- Add ice cubes to the water dish.
- Visit a splash pad or a wading pool with shallow, cool water.
- Create extra shade outdoors by stringing up a tarp, large cloth, or screen.
- Take a collapsible water dish with you on walks.
- Replace a portion of their regular diet with canned food.
- Avoid walking on hot pavement, and consider booties to insulate their toes.
- Exercise during early morning or late in the evening.
- Give your dog frozen treats.
Do You Have More Tips?
What do you do to make sure your dog is cool and safe during hot days? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks. Please share them here, or on our Facebook page.