Help your dog keep his cool

by Kira Garrett | August 01, 2013

Summer is a fun time for dogs and their owners. There are lots of opportunities for walks, runs, swims and relaxing together in the sunshine. Dogs can easily get overheated, though, and owners need to watch for signs of hyperthermia (elevation in body temperature). Heat stroke in dogs is a serious condition that can be avoided!

Your dog sweats through his foot pads and releases heat by panting. Neither of these is adequate when it’s really hot out there, so you need to make sure he doesn’t overheat.

Here are some tips to keep your pooch safe, while still enjoying that summer sun:

* The No. 1 way to avoid heat stroke is to NEVER leave your dog alone in the car. Even with the windows open, the inside of a vehicle will quickly heat up to dangerous levels.

* Avoid vigorous exercise on hot, humid days and opt for cooler activities. Some dogs enjoy spending time sitting in their own kiddie pools. And if you’re out for a stroll, look for a place with grass, as this will stay much cooler than the pavement.

* Always have fresh, cool drinking water available. Don’t leave the water bowl in the sun - you wouldn’t like drinking hot water on a warm day, and neither does your dog. Plus, bacteria can grow quickly.

* Make sure your dog has plenty of shade. Don’t rely on trees – as the sun moves in the sky, so does the shade. You can take the same umbrella you bring to the beach to the dog park for Fido too!

* Keep in mind that certain dog breeds are more susceptible to heat, especially those with short noses, such as pugs, bulldogs or boxers.

How do you know if your dog is overheating? He’ll likely be panting heavily and may be having difficulty breathing. His gums and tongue may appear bright red. His saliva could be thick and he may vomit. He may lie down and be unwilling to get up. Heat stroke is a very serious condition and needs immediate attention.

First, move your dog out of the heat and into a cool environment. Begin cooling your dog with cool water, but not ice water. You might want to lay wet towels on his feet and around his head, but you’ll need to replace them frequently as they warm up. Don’t cover his body in wet towels, because they could trap in heat. Encourage your dog to drink cool water, but don’t force him. Try not to let him drink excessive amounts of water, either.

Take your dog to your holistic vet as soon as possible, even if your dog seems better.

When you take care to keep your pooch cool, both you and your dog will be able to enjoy the warm weather and spend some quality time together out there in the sun!