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Cool It: Preventing Dog Heat Exhaustion

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Make no mistake: while July 17th is National Hot Dog Day, it celebrates the encased meat favorite nestled in a bun, not overheated canines. When it comes to our furry friends, we always want to keep it cool, especially in high summer months. So pet owners should keep an eye out for the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in their pets. That’s why Portland Pet Food Company has put together a brief guide to cover the essentials of summer dog health. 

Why is Heat Exhaustion and Heart Stroke So Dangerous for Dogs? 

Dogs don’t sweat like humans, they pant. But even the most vigorous mouth-breathing isn’t going to regulate heat in your dog’s body on the hottest days of summer. When your dog’s  body temperature rises above the normal temperature, that’s when they are at risk for heat exhaustion. While this can vary from dog to dog, 103 degrees Fahrenheit and higher are above normal. If her temperature continues to rise and reaches 106 or higher, your pup is in the danger zone for heat stroke. This is of serious concern because at that point organs can begin to shut down and there is risk of heart failure and even death.


Are some dogs more at risk of heat exhaustion?

While all dogs are at risk on a hot day, there are some dogs that should be given extra care, especially dogs who are overweight or elderly. Breed types also come into play, such as dogs with heavy coats or brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced breeds like pugs and bulldogs).

What are the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs?

 

While panting is one of the first symptoms of overheating, it can be mistaken for simple fatigue. You’ll want to watch out for other key indicators:
  • Less responsive to commands than usual 
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive drooling
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness or lack of coordination
  • Fever
  • Loss of consciousness

More serious symptoms include:
  • Convulsions
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Gums or a tongue that turn blue or bright red
  • Physical collapse


If your dog does begin to show signs of serious heat exhaustion, take steps to cool her off and get her to a vet as soon as possible.

 

How to prevent heat exhaustion

While most people know not to leave a dog in a hot car, there are other basic rules of thumb to keeping your dog out of danger:

  • Limit exercise or outdoor activity on hot or humid days, especially during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Have water available at all times. It’s a great idea to carry a travel water bowl like those offered by Portland Pet Food Company. If your dog likes playing in the water, take her swimming or to frolic in a sprinkler. 
  • For water-averse dogs, consider a cooling body wrap, damp towels, or a cold pack on the head - but be careful not to overdo it, as it can cause shock.
  • If your dog has long hair or a thick coat, maybe get her a haircut for the hot months.
  • If you dog seems to be getting overheated, immediately move her to a cooler area, either indoors to air conditioning or in the shade.

Keep a cool head to keep a cool pet

As with so many things, they key is to use common sense. When you’re out on a summer day, think what it would be like to be wearing a fur coat. With that in mind, you should be able to make sure your pooch is safe and comfortable. Try repeating this mantra: “shade, water, time” - that is, try to keep your dog in the shade, always have water available (again, get that travel bowl!), and be aware of how long you’re exposing her to the heat. Is that cool with you?

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