Why You Must Keep Your Dogs Safe in the Heat
If you’re anything like me, your dog is your furbaby, and you’ll do anything to protect him or her. But protecting your dog from the elements, particularly from the heat, might not even be on your radar, and it should be.
What’s Heatstroke in Dogs?
Dogs already have higher temperatures than humans. The average temperature for a dog ranges from 101° to 102.5° Fahrenheit.
Humans normal is 98.6° Fahrenheit. Canine heat stroke is a state of extreme hyperthermia (106° — 109° Fahrenheit). In this state heat generation overwhelms the body’s ability to disperse heat.
Anatomically, dogs expel heat very differently from humans. Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their body like us. Their main sweat glands are in their paws. As you’d imagine, it’s not the most effective means of regulating body temperature. Instead, dogs regulate their body temperature through panting. Panting with their mouths wide open allows the moisture on their tongue to evaporate. Heavy breathing also allows the moist lining of their lungs to serve as a surface from which moisture can evaporate. Dogs also try to regulate their temperature by expanding the blood vessels in their face and ears and using their fur as a barrier.
Signs and Symptoms of Canine Heatstroke
Listed below are the most important signs and symptoms of heat stroke.
increased heart rate
bright red tongue and/or gums
loss of consciousness
Heatstroke can become lethal in a matter of seconds. Please don’t toy with your dog’s life. Dogs that have suffered from heat stroke are at a higher risk of having another episode, so they should be monitored.
Avoid These 2 Dangerous Scenarios
One of the easiest ways to keep your dog safe from the heat is by avoiding these two common scenarios.
Hot Cars: Don’t risk your dog’s life — not even for a minute — by leaving your best friend in the car. It’s not worth it. According to My Dog is Cool, a car can get 30 degrees hotter than the temperature outside in 10 minutes, even with cracked windows. Remember: no hot cars for dogs. And it can take 15 short minutes for your furbaby to experience brain damage or death.
This doesn’t even get into the mental and emotional stress that dogs in hot cars experience. They’re scared, panicked and frantic. Why would you put your best friend through this? Veterinarian Shawn Messonnier tells USA Today that dogs will often vomit, experience diarrhea or lose consciousness as their organs begin to disintegrate. Unfortunately, this isn’t an exaggeration. As Messonnier heartbreakingly recalls, “When you do an autopsy on a dog that died this way, the organs are soupy.”
Hot Pavement: Avoid taking your dog out on a walk if it’s too hot. According to PETA, on an 87-degree day, the asphalt can reach sizzling temperatures as high as 140 degrees. At this extreme temperature, you could cook an egg in five minutes if you wanted to. Forcing your dog to walk on hot pavement can have serious repercussions. These include burnt paws, painful blisters, and heatstroke. If you couldn’t walk barefoot, then don’t force your dog to.
How You Can Keep Your Dog Safe in the Heat
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heatstroke, then it’s crucial that you attempt to cool your dog down before seeing a vet. According to the NAVC Clinician’s Brief, one study showed that only 38 percent of dogs died when cooled down prior to seeing a vet. 61 percent died when they were not cooled down by their guardians prior to see thier vet.
The NAVC Clinician’s Brief recommends cooling dogs down with lukewarm water. According to NAVC, “cold water or ice will cause peripheral vasoconstriction and lead to a decreased ability to lose heat through convective mechanisms.”
Here are ten more ways that you can keep your dog safe in the heat:
- Always carry drinking water for your pooch. You wouldn’t want her to go without on any day, much less a hot day.
- Immerse him in a tub of water for a couple of minutes. Please don’t use Ice Cold Water!!
- Carry a spray bottle and mist your dog’s body all over. You’re giving her the sweat glands that she’s lacking. Keeping the chest wet will help keep your dog extra cool.
- Avoid using muzzles that will constrict breathing, especially on a hot day.
- Turn on the fan or air conditioner.
- Apply wet towels on your dog’s body, particularly in the “groin area, stomach, chest and paws,” recommends PETA.
- Give your dog access to cool tile.
- Enjoy summer with your best friend. While keeping your dog safe from the heat, you can still make incredible memories with your pooch at dog beaches and dog pools.
- Spread the word. My Dog is Cool has wonderful leaflets that you can share with your community detailing the dangers of dogs and heatstroke. No hot cars for dogs.
- Speak with your local politicians about enacting legislation that will keep dogs safe from the heat. Vermont recently passed the “Forcible Entry of Motor Vehicle for Rescue Purposes” into law . Citizens can now legally break into a car to save a baby or a furbaby without being liable for damages. California is considering passing a similar law. This is legislation that everyone should get behind.
Dogs die needlessly every year by being left in hot cars, made to go for walks or runs on hot sidewalks and pavement. Be kind to your furbaby. Don’t take them out when it’s hot. They may beg, but just say No to taking your dogs out in the heat.