Dogs love to run and play in the sunshine, but they don’t have strong natural mechanisms that help keep them cool. Here’s how you can make sure your dog isn’t overheating.
My dogs love to play in the park. When they get up a game of chase with their pals, they have to be dragged back home at the end of the day. While their enthusiasm is really fun to watch, what I’m really monitoring is their response to the heat of the day. I have to make sure that their exertions don’t leave them susceptible to heat exhaustion, which can be debilitating and even fatal.
Although some of the signs of heat exhaustion are similar to normal tiredness after play, it’s important to keep a close eye out for:
- Heavy drooling
- Heavier-than-normal panting
Overheating is a serious medical event – if your pup’s temperature gets higher than 103 degrees, they may experience organ failure. Here’s how you can reduce the risk of overheating this summer without significantly cutting back on your dog’s playtime.
- Give your single-coat long-hair dog a summer cut. Sure – your Afghan hound’s long luxurious coat is a point of pride, but it’s a summer heat intensifier. They’ll be far more comfortable with short fur, so if you’re not showing your pure breed dog in a competition, have the fur trimmed. *Note: This is only applicable to single-coated breeds – double-coated breeds need to keep their coats more-or-less intact in order to guard against the heat. If you have a double-coated dog, they’ll need a really, really good brushing to make sure all their naturally shed fur is freed.
- Bring water to the park. When you take your dog out to play, bring their bowl and some water to make sure they rehydrate after their exertions.
- Fragment their playtime. If the sun is out – the weather doesn’t even have to be that warm – don’t let your dog run until they drop. Let them play actively for a few minutes, then retire to a shady spot to rest and cool down between play sessions.
- Maintain a cool home. Overheating doesn’t just happen in the sun – your dog can suffer from overheating at home, too. This is especially dangerous if your home isn’t kept at the right temperature to allow them to cool down after playing outside.
- Don’t ever let your dog sit in a car alone. Even if the temperature is only 70-degrees, if your car is parked in direct sunlight, it can achieve temperatures of more than 100-degrees.
If you have a puppy, a senior dog, or a dog with health concerns, you have to be particularly vigilant about managing their internal temperature, particularly when it’s not only hot out, but also humid. Overweight dogs are exceptionally vulnerable to overheating and have to be monitored closely, so talk to your vet about weight loss strategies. (If you’re worried about your dog’s susceptibility to conditions like obesity and canine DCM, Zignature, Organix, and Nutrish are good, affordable pet food brands that can help control these conditions.) If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion, lower their temperature in a cool bath and call your vet.
You and your pooch can still have plenty of fun in the sun – just take the above precautions and enjoy your summer!
I’m a dog blogger and pet parent of two adorable rescue mutts, who spend their days monitoring the mail carrier situation and posing for adorable social media photos.