Meet our big black dog (BBD) Gidget. Gidget is a black lab/weimaraner mutt we rescued about 7 years ago now. Gidget loves to play ball. In fact, her tiny little dog brain is comprised of about 70% ball obsession, 20% cat harassing, and 10 % food. The ball is her life. In the summer my poor big black dog gets hot and over heated easily. When she is overheated she can’t play ball for hours on end. I think you can see the tragedy in this.
The fact is, hot summers bring hot sidewalks, hot cars, and it is easy for our furry friends to get over heated – which can be life threatening. Here are some simple tips on Keeping Your Pets Cool In The Summer Heat. I hope they help!
Heat stroke can happen to dogs and cats in minutes. Signs of heat stroke are:
- panting excessively
- have redness around his eyes
- show signs of weakness
- may start vomiting
If the dog has white or blue gums, blue tongue, lethargy and unwillingness to move, uncontrollable urination or defecation, labored noisy breathing, shock or seizures seek veterinary attention IMMEDIATELY. This may require you to take your pet to an emergency vet. These symptoms are potentially life threatening and should not be ignored. 1
According to the Humane Society, if a dog’s temperature is over 104* F they are in the danger zone, and should be cooled down immediately. Their tips for treating overheating are:
“Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.”
This can happen on a very hot day when they are left out in the sun, without enough cool water, in a parked car – even when the windows are down, or any time when fido is left without proper protection from the elements. Dogs can also get over heated when walking on hot days, especially if they are older or out of shape.
Do not leave dogs in parked cars, even if you leave the windows down. On a day when the temperature is just 80 degrees outside, the car can reach 110 degrees in minutes. Red Rover has a great chart about how hot cars get, with two windows open, throughout the day in different temperatures. It is definitely worth checking out.
Some breeds of dogs and cats have short muzzles, like boxers, pugs, shih tzus and bull dogs will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.
Dogs with short white hair commonly get sunburns. Talk to your vet about using sunscreen on your pet, which types would be right for them, and where you should apply it. Most dogs tend to get sunburned on their ears and muzzles.
Ways to cool down your pooch:
- Always provide plenty of fresh cool water. On very hot days we have at least two water bowls available, and the outside bowl has ice in it.
- Make sure your pets have plenty of shade if left outside. A dog house is not a good source of shade as it can easily trap heat. Trees and shade tarps are best for shade as they don’t obstruct air flow.
- Avoid strenuous exercise on hot days. If the weather report says it is going to be hot, make sure to walk your pup in the early morning before it gets hot, or in the late evening after the sidewalks have had a chance to cool down.
- Sidewalks, patios, streets and sand can burn sensitive paws! Place your bare hand on the sidewalk for 30 seconds. Does it burn? Then your pooch should not be walking on it.
- Don’t worry about using a fan. Pets cool down differently than people do. Dogs sweat primarily from their paws and expel heat through their lungs by panting. Fans don’t do much for them.
- Have a small kiddie pool outside that your dog can jump in to cool down throughout the day. If you have a dog door this can lead to muddy floors but a cool and happy dog. If you have kids be sure to follow proper safety precautions to avoid drowning.
- There are some great pet cooling accessories out right now to help keep fido stay cool in the heat of summer. Prevention is key, and giving them some great pro-active cool places to lay like these cooling mats would be a great help.
How do you keep your pets cool in the summer sun?
See my tips on how to treat heat exhaustion in humans HERE.
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