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  • Writer's pictureMorgan R.

Overheating: A Hot Topic for the Summer

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

Overheating in dogs isn’t always a hot topic, but it shouldn’t be ignored.This summer as the temperature begins to climb and you want to spend more time outside, it is important to know how these rising temperatures can affect your furry family members! Heat exhaustion in dogs can be very serious and lead to potentially fatal conditions such as heat stroke. To help keep your pups cool and safe for the summer, here is what you should know about how to recognize and avoid overheating!

How does heat exhaustion happen?

Heat exhaustion happens when a dog’s body temperature rises above their normal level. The normal body temperature for dogs is around 103 degrees. On a hot day, a dog's temp may rise to 105 degrees safely, but if it rises to 106 degrees or above, your pup's organs could start to shut down.

Warning Signs:

When people get hot, we are fortunate enough to just sweat it out. However, dogs don’t sweat out their body heat. They have sweat glands located in their paws, but it does not help with regulating their body temperature. Instead, dog’s pant to help cool them down, but sometimes panting is not enough in extreme temperatures. 

Excessive panting is usually the first sign that a dog is too hot. They may also vomit and have bright red or blue gums, which are both serious signs that your dog is overheating. You may also notice that they are less responsive to commands and are acting unusual. If you notice any of these symptoms or your dog’s eyes become glazed and they appear dizzy, seek medical help right away.

Who is at Risk?

All dogs can overheat, but it is important to recognize that some breeds that are more prone to overheating than others. Brachycephalic breeds have the highest risk of overheating and include bulldogs, pugs, boxers, shih tzu’s, and other breeds with flat faces and short noses. 

Extremely active dogs are also higher at risk and so working or hunting breeds such as spaniels, retrievers, and shepherds can be prone to overheating. It is important to not push these dogs too hard and make sure they have access to water and shade and get adequate rest time.

Other dogs at risk are those with long or thick coats, as well as very young or very old dogs.

Environmental factors can also place dogs at a high risk. It is important to be aware of humidity levels and make sure dogs are not confined in small spaces with little air flow. 

How to avoid Heat Exhaustion:

  1. Limit outdoor exercise on extremely hot or humid days

  2. Provide plenty of shade and water when your pup is outside

  3. Never leave them in a car- not even in the shade with the windows rolled down. On a 70 degree day, a car can rise to 120 degrees within minutes!

  4. Take them swimming to burn off energy, or let them run through a sprinkler so they can stay cool while getting exercise.

  5. Walk them during cooler hours of the day (early morning or late evening).

  6. Use a daycare facility for them to burn energy! If you live near a Woof’s location, our play areas are indoor and outdoor with air curtains to ensure that the inside stays cool. Many of our locations also have swimming pools!

What to do for a dog that is overheated:

  1. Move them to a cooler area, it can be indoors, or just somewhere shaded. Make sure there is air moving!

  2. Take their temperature if possible. We suggest keeping a first aid kit in your car or house that can be used for pets.

  3. Water: If you are close to a lake or a pool, try letting your dog get in to cool down. If you aren’t near a lake or pool, use cool wet towels or clothes and place them in your dog’s hot zones (neck, armpits, between hind legs, ears, and paw pads)

  4. Drink: offer your dog water, but do not force it. If they don’t want to drink, carefully wet their tongue with water. 

  5. Take them to the vet.

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