How well your dog copes in hot weather comes down to a range of factors. Some breeds have been developed specifically for cold climates, while others are prone to overheating due to genetic factors. In other words, some dogs cope better with hot weather than others, so it's essential that you always give your pooch the best possible care when things start to heat up.
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Signs Your Dog Isn't Coping with the Heat
And when your dog's body temperature increases faster than they can effectively lower it, heat stroke can occur. This is an extremely serious condition which, if left untreated, can quickly be fatal.
Signs of an overheating dog include:
- Rapid, heavy panting that continues even while your pet is resting
- Elevated body temperature (101.5° is a normal temperature)
- Signs of distress
- Dark red or purple tongue
- Increased drooling
- Reluctance to move
- Stumbling and dizziness
Brachycephalic breeds, better known as those with short snouts (such as Bulldogs and Pugs), are particularly prone to heatstroke, while those dogs that were developed in cold climates (like the Siberian Husky) also tend to have a harder time coping with the heat.
If you notice your dog showing any signs of heatstroke, it's critical that you cool them down immediately. Bathe your pet in cool (but not icy-cold) water and then sit them in a cool area in front of a fan. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water to drink and seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
- Lack of focus
- Sweaty paws
- Dropped Ears
- Dizziness and disorientation
- Body temperature above 103° F
- Decreased urination
- Rapid heart rate
The Science of Dogs in Hot Weather
Although dogs can sweat through their paw pads, they're unable to sweat through their skin to cool themselves down. Instead, they breathe rapidly to push warm air out of the body and replace it with cooler air from outside. Unfortunately for our furry friends, this isn't a particularly efficient cooling method, so heat stroke is a very real threat in warmer weather.
If your pooch is showing signs of heat stress, reducing their body temperature quickly can prevent damage to their vital organs, most importantly the brain and kidneys. However, it's essential to remember to use cool water rather than icy-cold water when cooling your pooch down, as iced water can cause the skin to feel excessively cold. This will then cause them to shiver, which can, in turn, lead to their body temperature rising even further.
The fact that your dog is not all that efficient at regulating body temperature means that it's critical that you never push them too hard when exercising in warmer weather. It's also part of the reason why you should never leave a dog in a hot car.
But if you're wondering how hot is too hot for a dog to be outside, there's no hard and fast answer. If they've got access to water, shade and are in a well-ventilated area, most dogs will cope well with temperatures of up to 90˚F. But that won't always be the case, so remember to always exercise caution.
Caring for Your Dog in Hot Weather
One of the key points to consider is exercise. In the height of summer, or indeed all year round in some parts of the nation, exercising your dog in the middle of the day is a no-no. Instead, encourage your pooch to get active in the morning and evening, when the heat hasn't yet reached its peak.
Access to an ample supply of clean, fresh water is also a must. Make sure your pooch has multiple bowls so they can still have a drink if they happen to knock one of the bowls over, and be careful of metal bowls overheating in the hot sun.
Shade and ventilation are also essential to help your pet cool down, but they'll obviously cope even better if they're able to escape the heat inside with you.
There's plenty more you can do to help your pet stay comfortable, including investing in a cooling pet bed, filling a kiddie paddling pool with water, or making them some special frozen treats. By planning ahead and pulling out all the stops to make your pooch as comfortable as possible, your dog can survive and thrive in the hot weather.
Hot Weather Safety Tips:
Monitor your dog for signs of heatstroke and act immediately if they appear.
Make sure your dog always has access to multiple sources of water.
Old, overweight, long-coated and short-nosed dogs may find it harder to cope with the heat.
Never exercise them in the hottest part of the day.
Take it easy and never force your pet to do too much activity.
Groom thick-coated dogs to help them stay as cool as possible.