Caring for your dog in hot weather
What a weekend! Doolittle’s HQ in Swansea has been bathed in glorious sunshine, giving us perfect conditions for the passing through of the Olympic torch on Saturday and barbeques at home and on the beach. Most have enjoyed the soaring temperatures and many a person has been seen playing in the sea, trying to keep cool.
In weather like this, our pets also need a little cooling off and somewhere where they can escape the sun. It’s our canine friends who are most at risk from overheating, especially puppies, older dogs, flat faced breeds and overweight dogs.
Unlike us humans, dogs don’t sweat as a means of keeping cool, except minimally on their paws, and their thick coat acts as an insulator, which only adds to the problem. To lose heat dog’s pant, pushing air across the moist heated surfaces of the tongue, throat and windpipe, losing heat by evaporation. If your dogs’ body temperature becomes too high, these mechanisms of heat loss can be overwhelmed, and your dog is at risk of heat exhaustion.
The normal body temperature of a dog is 38.5 degrees Celsius. If the body temperatures reaches and exceeds 41 degrees Celsius, the dog is at risk of brain damage, vital organ damage and subsequently death. A dog’s temperature can reach these catastrophic heights if they are left in a locked car or over-exercised on a hot day. Overheated dogs can appear slow, unresponsive, disorientated, you will find them panting excessively and they will have very red gums, which can progress to coma and seizures.
What can we do to prevent heat exhaustion?
The key point to remember, is don’t leave dogs in locked cars even if the windows are open. The temperature inside a car on a hot day can quickly increase in a matter of minutes. If you need to leave the dogs in the car for a short period of time, make sure some one stays with the dog, with the engine and air conditioning turned on.
Secondly, avoid walking your dogs during the hottest part of the day – take an early morning walk before the temperature rises or leave it until late evening when it becomes much cooler. If it is warm when you walk your dog, take your time, don’t go too far and keep stopping for rests. A dip in the local river or the sea can help keep them cool also and it’s a great way to have fun too. If you know that it will be hot on your walk, take some water with you to prevent your dog from getting dehydrated.
When you get home, leave your dog in a shady place and a gentle hosing down or a cold wet towel can help keep them cool. Make sure there is constant access to cold water or as a fun alternative you can even give them ice cubes to play with or a shallow paddling pool to wallow in.
If you think that your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion, telephone for veterinary advice immediately and do your bets to bring down their temperature en route to the vets, using cold wet towels.