It’s summertime— the sun is bright and the days are long. You’d like to go for a jog with your best friend and there’s a nice breeze, so you suspect that it is not too hot… Fido should be fine! What you don’t know is that serious injury could be lurking right outside your door, for you and your pet.
Did you know that when dogs pant it helps cool their bodies much like sweating cools us down? Panting is their main cooling mechanism; without the ability to pant, they overheat.
If you put a muzzle on your dog, or any other device that prevents the mouth from opening wide enough to pant, you could cause your dog to overheat.Sometimes, even if a dog is able to pant, the body can get so hot that the heat buildup overwhelms the panting mechanism and heat stroke can ensue. Imagine that your dog is a car—if your car isn’t able to run properly, it can overheat and breakdown. Unfortunately, if your dog overheats, he or she could die.
It is important to note that the temperature outside doesn’t matter. It could be 70 degrees with a breeze and your dog could still get heat exhaustion or worse. Dogs particularly susceptible to overheating on walks are brachycephalic breeds (dogs with a short snout) like Bulldogs, Pugs, Brussels, and Griffons; overweight dogs; and thick coated dogs such as Huskies, German Shepherds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Please, never leave your pet in a car. On a 78 degree day, the temperature in a car, even with windows cracked, can elevate to 120 degrees within minutes.
Signs indicating that your pet is overheating and has potential for heat stroke include: lethargy, vomiting, shallow breaths, seizures, and confusion. If you note any of these signs, you must immediately remove your pet from the heat source, give your pet water to drink, fan your pet,and allow him or her to rest. In severe cases of heat stroke, you may wet the dog’s body with room temperature to slightly cool water. However, please be careful because if the water is too cold, it could shock the system. It is important to see a veterinarian right away if mild or severe signs of heat injury appear.
Summer should be full of time outside and fun with family, friends, and your pooch. Please be safe and play outside on cooler days, as well as earlier or later in the day for short amounts of time on warmer days. Always be sure there is plenty of water for Fido, and if there are any signs of overheating, rest your dog and seek veterinary advice immediately. Also, be sure to report any animals inside of a car to the proper authorities. You could save a voiceless creature’s life.