July 24, 2020
How to Prevent Heat Exhaustion in Dogs
Summertime in the city is the best. However, hot summer days bring their own safety challenges for dogs and their owners. Heat exhaustion affects dogs the same as humans and can be just as deadly. Here are some signs and guidelines to keep in mind so you know how to prevent heat exhaustion in your dog.
How hot is too hot?
A good rule for gauging temperature is if you’re uncomfortable, your dog probably is too. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke in dogs can occur when the body temperature rises above normal. According to the AKC Canine Health Foundation, a dog’s normal body temperature is around 101.5F. If their temperature reaches 105F+, this is the danger zone for heatstroke. If their temperature continues to rise unchecked, their organs can begin to shut down and their heart can stop altogether.
Signs to watch for during high-temperature days:
- Excessive panting is the first easy symptom to spot.
- They will be hot to the touch.
- If their body temperature continues to rise, the dog may collapse, experience convulsions, begin to vomit or have diarrhea.
- Their gums or tongue may turn bright red or blue.
- Other symptoms include glazed eyes, excessive drooling, rapid heart rate, dizziness/lack of coordination, fever, lethargy, and loss of consciousness.
What to do if you think your dog is overheating:
- Move the dog to a cooler area ASAP; either into air conditioning or under the shade with a fan.
- Use cool, wet, cloths to lower their body temp. Place them on the dog’s neck, armpits, and between the hind legs. You can also gently wet their ears and paw pads with cool water.
- If your dog is conscious and willing to drink, give them cool, fresh, water. Don’t force it, as it may end up in the lungs.
- Don’t feed a dog an ice cube. This can cause their body temp to drop too quickly, leading to shock.
- If your dog can’t or won’t drink, or can’t keep water down, wet their tongue with water instead.
- If your dog is unconscious or unresponsive, this is an emergency and you should call your emergency veterinarian immediately.
Easy Ways to Avoid Heat Exhaustion/Stroke:
- Play it safe! If it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your dog.
- Limit outdoor activity.
- Keep walks shorter. If your dog needs more exercise, play inside. Plus, playtime is good for your dog’s health!
- Asphalt in direct sunlight can jump to 130-140F! Keep your dog on the grass or in the shade to avoid fried footsies.
Besides these external factors, certain breeds and dogs with medical issues are more susceptible. Ask your veterinarian for more information if you’re unsure about what is best for your dog’s health. If you follow these guidelines you will have no problem preventing heat exhaustion in your dog any time you decide to go out and enjoy summer in the city!
Brock Casper is the Southwest Region Team Manager for Rover-Time and has been part of the RT team for two years. When he isn’t working he enjoys reading, playing video games, watching horror films, and going on walks with his dog, Loki. He lives in the northwest part of Chicago with his partner, Laurel. They enjoy making delicious food together and watching cooking shows.