Keeping it Cool
July 10, 2010 § Leave a Comment
We all know how horrible it can be to be so hot we feel like we are melting. It has been like that around these parts for a few days and it plans to be for a while yet. Summer can be awesome if you are prepared and careful. However, we often forget our four-legged friends need some extra help in keeping cool. Here are some important things to consider during the warm summer months.
- Do I really need to say it? I hope not but I will anyway. Never EVER leave a dog (or any other living creature) in your car. Windows cracked or not it is cruel. Think it is ok for just a couple of minutes? Really? Try it yourself. Put on jeans, and long-sleeved t-shirt (won’t even suggest a heavy coat like a dog wears) and YOU sit in your car with just the window cracked. How long can you stand it? Imagine if you could only cool off with panting and through your paws?
Heat inside a parked car can build, in just a few short minutes, to as much as 40 degrees above the outside temperature. For instance, on an 80 F day, temperatures in a parked car can reach 120 F in as little as ten minutes, especially if the car is in the sun. Leaving the windows cracked helps very little and that’s only IF there’s a breeze. Factor in humidity and the dog doesn’t have a chance! Just don’t take them with you, leave your buddy at home.
- Exercise your dog early in the morning (this goes for playing with cats, birds, ferrets ..whatever) and later in the evening. Dogs are goofy and will play far beyond when they should have stopped. They can easily over heat, be unable to cool themselves and can die. You have to notice when the panting starts getting heavier and stop the games.
- If you have the room and your dog enjoys water, invest in a kiddie pool! Most dogs LOVE to play in the water. I used to throw ice cubes or the odd carrot in there for a treat and my dog loved fishing them out. Not to mention it sure is nice for us people to wade a bit and cool off. A hose or sprinkler can also work to cool off a pup. Start with a trickle and work your way up slowly to a gentle spray. Never blast your dog with a hard spray as it may injure an eye and will scare them off the hose.
- Provide shade and water at all times. (for you too!)
- Did you know your pet can get a sunburn or sun damage as well? Especially around the eyes, lips and nose. Limit the time they spend in the direct sunlight. If you notice any odd discolorations or sores do consult your vet.
- If you crate your dog ensure that you use a wire crate and add a fan. If at all possible keep them somewhere air-conditioned and check on them often. Many dogs have died from heatstroke in kennels. Remember is isn’t just heat, but ventilation and humidity that cause death.
Heat stroke is what happens when more heat is taken into the body than can be released. As I said before it is much more likely your dog will suffer from heat stroke before you do.
“High temperatures cause chemical reactions that break down body cells which lead to dehydration and blood thickening. This puts extreme strain on the heart and causes blood clotting and subsequent death to tissue. Liver, brain and intestinal cells are usually the first to be affected and this can occur quickly. Normal body temperature for a dog is about 101 F to 102 F. If his temperature reaches 106 F, he is in danger of brain damage, vital organ failure and death. Reducing body temp quickly is imperative. A dog who recovers can still have organ damage and lifelong health problems. Temperatures above 106 F are extremely dangerous.” Suite101.com
- Panting becomes quite heavy. Remember this is your dogs main way to cool himself. I’ve heard it described as almost a roaring sound when it gets to the point of desperation on your dogs part. If you dog is panting hard, frantically or seems to be hyperventilating, this is the time to take action to cool them down.
- Weakness, lethargy
- Salivating heavily at first, then will have a dry mouth later on
- Tongue, Ears and gums will be brighter, darker red then normal, as this progresses the gums may turn grayish pointing to serious dehydration
- Breathing becomes shallow or intermittent
- Seizures or coma
What to do if you realize your dog is overheating
- prevention is key! Do not exercise your dog on hot days. This includes hiking and swimming. Dogs work hard when swimming and even though they are in the water they can still easily overheat.
- remove them from any direct sun
- cool them down by putting a cold wet towel on them, getting them into cool or tepid water (pool, tub, hose), but not ice-cold as this can shock the body and preferably to somewhere air-conditioned
- putting an ice pack (or cold towel) on areas such as feet, neck, armpits
- provide lots of water to drink
- as soon as the distress eases, proceed to the vets as dogs who’ve suffered even from a minor incident of heat stroke can develop complications after the fact that are quite serious, including death
It is far more kind to have a bored dog at home, giving you the sad “why-can’t-I-come-too” eyes, then one who suffers in the heat and could possibly die. We know our pets will play until they collapse, it is up to us to ensure that this doesn’t happen.