Summertime is officially here and with it comes warm weather and sunshine! Most dogs are very sensitive to the heat, as they regulate their body temperature through panting. This makes it much harder for them to cool down when the temperature rises and makes them much more susceptible to overheating.
Ways to keep your pup cool in warmer temperatures include walking them at the cooler times of the day (morning and evening), avoiding taking them out in the midday heat, restrict activity to short walks, ensure they always have access to fresh, cool water and shade. Most importantly, never leave them unattended in the car – even if it is in the shade as temperatures rise to lethal levels in minutes.
Certain dogs are at increased risk of overheating, such as; seniors, puppies, overweight dogs, and brachycephalic breeds such as Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus and Boxers. Even a few minutes of exercise in the hot sun can be enough to cause heatstroke. High energy dogs that love to play, should also be observed for signs overheating.
Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, lethargy, excessive drooling, vomiting, red or purple gums, collapse, glassy eyes, fast heart rate, and even seizures.
Heat stroke can be fatal, as it can cause shock, organ failure, electrolyte abnormalities and issues with clotting blood. If you suspect your dog has heat stroke, place them in a cool place, cover with a towel that has been wet with cool (not cold) water, and turn a fan on them and contact a veterinarian immediately.
Written by Dr. Sarah Wells, DVM