How to keep your dog ‘chill’ in hot weather

June 19, 2018

Did you know that dogs are much more susceptible to heat stroke than we are?  One reason is all that fur. Another: While dogs do have sweat glands on their feet, they do not have them on the rest of their body. They rely on panting, which is not as effective as sweating.

So, don’t let your pet be a “hot dog.” According to Wikihow’s experts, there are several things we can do to ensure that Fido stays “chill,” even in the steamiest weather:

  1. Keep a filled water bowl easily available to your dog at all times. If your dog finishes the bowl quickly, get a bigger bowl or get a few bowls. If you live with others, set up a schedule to ensure that someone is remembering to check and refill the bowl throughout the day. If you do not, be sure to leave an adequate supply when you leave the house and refill the bowls with cold water when you return.
  2. The wetter, the better. Give your dog somewhere to get wet. Set up a small wading pool or similar container of water for your dog to jump into and keep his cool in the yard. The dog also might also like to run under the sprinkler or a light hose. Be certain that any pool you provide is not so deep that your dog could drown. The dog should be able to stand on the bottom of the pool with its head above the water.
  3. Bring water along on walks or short trips. When you take your dog out on a hot day, bring water for both of you. If your pet is panting or seems sluggish, stop in a shady area to offer your dog water. If the dog won’t drink, you can pour the water over its body.
  4. Keep your dog indoors. Let your dog spend the hottest part of the day in the coolest part of the house. If you have air conditioning in your house, leave it on during the day while your dog is alone. There is no ideal temperature that applies for all dogs, but most begin to show signs of overheating between 81 and 85 degrees. If temperatures are likely to rise into this range, keep the AC on for your dog when you leave home. Set it between 78 and 80 degrees. This is especially important when the weather is humid. The moisture in the air makes it harder for dogs to cool themselves by panting. If your basement is cool and comfortable, having your dog spend time down there also is a good idea.
  5. Provide plenty of shade. Provide a cool kennel or covered porch space for outdoor dogs to rest in. If your dog will be outside during the day, you can buy a sunshade, or you can make a canopy with a thin blanket.
  6. Buy your pet a cooling pad. There are many different pad you can buy that are designed to keep dogs cool. Most of them are filled with a gel that draws the heat out of your dog’s body. An alternative is to lay a damp towel on the kitchen floor. If your dog will lie down on the towel, it will feel refreshed.
  7. Avoid midday walks. Take your dog for its walk early in the morning and at night when the air is cooler. If it is especially hot and/or humid, it may be better to skip the walk entirely.
  8. Choose shady, cool places to go for walks. You will both benefit from a cooler walking area. The presence of sea or river breezes can make an area a good choice for walking, if you live near such a place. Manage your dog’s activity by putting it on a leash. This can help you prevent your dog from over-exerting itself in the heat.
  9. During any activity outside, avoid letting your pet’s paws touch hot pavement. It can burn your dog’s paws. Let your pooch roam on grass if it’s possible, and keep exposure to pavements at a minimum. To test whether the pavement is safe for your dog to walk on, lay the flat of your palm on the ground. If it burns, keep your dog off the pavement or put a pair of booties on its paws. If you cannot hold your hand on the pavement for at least 15 seconds, do not take your dog out for that walk until the sidewalk has cooled.
  10. Go to the groomer:  This is especially important for dogs with thick, long coats. Be aware, though, that sometimes the fur will take a long time to grow back after it has been clipped.Take care that your groomer does not shave the dog completely. Leaving skin exposed can increase the chances of sunburn.
  11. Don’t leave you pet in a parked car. Heat levels inside a car can rise very quickly and can kill your dog. You could also get in trouble with animal welfare and the police. Be sure to leave windows open for your dog while traveling in the car, and always bring some water with you.
  12. Use your car’s air conditioner to keep the temperature of the moving car under 75 degrees. If your car does not have air conditioning, leave your dog at home when it is extremely hot outside.
  13. Offer cold treats. Give the dog some cold treats, a few at a time. Too many at once (like immersing in the dog ice water) could cause your dog to go into shock. You can freeze low-sodium beef or chicken broth or other tasty liquids in an ice-cube tray to make a frozen treat your dog will enjoy. On hot days, your dog may be happy just to receive an ordinary ice cube as well. Do not force water or ice down your dog’s throat. This might cause water to get into the lungs, causing more complications like pneumonia or death. Just wet the dog down with cool water, if it will not drink.
  14. Place wet towels against the pads of your dog’s feet. You also can ice packs or bags of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Place them against your dog’s skin, inside the front and hind legs and along the neck. These are the areas where there major blood vessels are located. Cooling the blood as it passes under the ice packs will help cool the interior of the dog.

Finally, call the vet or the ASPCA if you notice warning signs. Symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, a bright red or enlarged tongue, sluggish behavior, or being slow to respond. And remember that certain breeds are especially susceptible, including those with double coats, and those with flatter faces (such as bulldogs, pugs, and boxers, which have small airways, have a harder time blowing out hot air). If you have any questions about your pet’s safety in the heat, contact the SPCA at 1-888-666-2279 , or at the email address below.

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