With the dog days of summer around the corner, it’s imperative to take steps to keep your dog cool. Most likely, with the pleasant outdoor weather approaching, you’ll be looking forward to spending more time in the great outdoors in company of your canine companion. When you are both out in the sunshine having fun, it’s sometimes easy to forget about implementing some important precautions. This guide will provide some important tips to help Oliver cool off, while keeping him safe from the risk of becoming a victim of some serious heat-related illnesses.
Protecting your Dog from the Rays
Most likely you’ll be slathering a nice dose of sunscreen on your skin to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun rays, but what about your dog? Dogs are vulnerable to sunburn too, especially white or light-colored dogs and dogs with little or no hair. The most vulnerable areas are the dog’s ear tips, muzzle and abdominal area. Luckily, there are ways you can protect your dog from the effects of the sun. Provide your dog with shady areas he can retreat to, and protect his skin with sun block. Yes, dogs can use sun block too, but it needs to be specifically a type specifically formulated for them so to protect them from potential toxicity. Veterinarian Janet Tobiassen Crosby recommends using the only FDA approved sunscreen made for dogs: the Epi-pet Sun Protector.
Protecting your Dog from Hot Pavement
When we walk our dogs, it’s easy to forget about the effects of walking on hot pavement. While we protect our feet with shoes, poor Oliver is left with nothing to protect his poor paws. Burns and blisters may easily form when dogs are walked on hot asphalt. This may lead to limping, loose flaps of skin on the paw pads, blisters and reddened, ulcerated areas. The best guideline is to avoid walking your dog on asphalt, sand or metal surfaces. Grassy areas are preferable. According to Country Doctor Veterinarian Clinic, for minor burns, you can apply antibacterial wash protected with a loose bandage.
Protecting your Dog from Heatstroke
Unable to sweat as humans do, dogs are more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. While panting may normally be an efficient way to cool down, things can get critical when the heat is excessive or your dog is a breed predisposed to overheating. In particular, you want to pay attention to high humidity levels. Your dog pants to allow moisture to evaporate through his lungs, but when humidity levels are too high, he may be unable to efficiently cool himself which quickly leads to overheating and a dangerously high internal temperature, explains veterinarian Dr. Barry Kellogg.
Dogs with heavy double-coats or breeds of dogs bred to live in cold climates such as the huskies, malamutes and American Eskimos may not tolerate the heat well. Older dogs, obese dogs and very young dogs may struggle as well. Breeds with short pushed-in faces such as boxers, pugs and English bulldogs are very susceptible to the effects of overheating. The best way to protect dogs from heatstroke is by avoiding exposure to predisposing situations. This means avoiding overexercising dogs when it’s hot outside, keeping your dog inside air-conditioned rooms, never leaving your dog in the car even if only for a handful of minutes and even with the windows cracked open, and providing always shade and access to cool water.
Recognizing Signs of Trouble
When you are out having fun with your dog, you may not notice right away the signs of trouble indicating your dog is overheating and risking heat stroke. Sometimes, even when you take precautions in protecting your dog, overheating can happen quickly. Being aware of potential signs of trouble can really make a difference in the outcome of the situation. Signs of trouble include: noisy breathing, excessive panting, rapid heartbeat, profuse salivation, vomiting, bright red gums, pinpoint hemorrhages on the skin or gums, skin bruising, dizziness, weakness, and ultimately, collapse and coma when not treated promptly.
Taking your dog’s temperature can also be a good indicator of your dog’s health status. A normal dog’s temperature is 101 to 102.5. Temperatures over 102.5, but lower than 105, are a sign of mild heat illness which may be treated by cooling the dog down through exposure to a fan, rest, access to fresh water and close observation, explains veterinarian Debra Primovic. Applying cold towels to the neck, head and chest area may also be helpful. In the case of temperatures between 105 and 107 degrees immediate hospitalization and aggressive therapy is necessary. A veterinarian visit is important for both mild and severe cases to ensure the dog is recovering fine and to prevent the onset of complications.