In hot weather, it is imperative to your dog’s health to keep the animal cool. Because dogs only perspire between their toes, they must pant to dispel heat. If an animal becomes excessively overheated, heat exhaustion or heatstroke can occur. Many systems of the body are affected by heatstroke, which can result in organ failure, brain damage, blindness, hemorrhages, convulsions or seizures.
So what can you do to keep your dog cool? One important tip is to keep plenty of water on hand; that means two full bowls at all times. That way, if one bowl is knocked over or emptied, fresh water is still available.
Also, be sure your dog has at least one cool, shaded area to escape from the heat. An umbrella, tree or porch can provide respite. If your pet has an outdoor house, check during the hottest times of the day to verify that it is cool for the pet. Don’t take your dog out for walks in the hottest periods of the day; instead, choose the mornings or evenings for exercise.
Despite what you might think, long fur does not necessarily make a dog warmer. The fur can actually insulate the dog and keep it cooler, so trimming fur is not necessary.
When taking your pet in the car, be aware of the dangers of heat. Because the temperature inside a parked car increases rapidly to deadly levels, if you must leave your dog in the car, keep these tips in mind: make it for only a few minutes, park in the shade and leave two windows partially opened. When you ride your pet in the car, seat the dog near an open window or near an air conditioning vent.
It may also be necessary to use sunscreen if your dog’s coat is light in color. Dogs can become sunburned on their noses, ears and other pink areas. You can use human sunscreen products; choose one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. It’s okay if your dog licks the sunscreen, because most are not toxic; however, you should avoid sunscreens that contain zinc or PABA. You can also dress your thin-coated dog in a t-shirt and hat to prevent sunburn.
If you feel your dog has become overheated, take its temperature immediately. If the temperature is elevated, provide cool water for drinking, but don’t force the dog to drink. You can also use cold water to douse or bathe the dog to reduce its temperature.
Many pet stores, both mortar and brick operations as well as online stores, offer a variety of aids to keep your dog cool. These include cooling pads for a dog to rest on, as well as bandannas and vests that cool.