National Heat Awareness Day is observed every year on the last Friday in May. With the days getting ever warmer, now is the time to plan for summertime pet safety, as you'll probably want to spend as much time outside with your dog as possible. If the weather is too hot, all you have to do to cool off is fan yourself or sip on a cool drink… but things aren't quite that simple for your dog.
Dogs are just as susceptible to heat as humans, but they have very limited options for cooling themselves off. To keep your dog cool during the summer and to reduce the risk of heatstroke, learn how to determine if it is too hot to take your dog outside.
Understanding Heat Stroke in Dogs
You may find it surprising to hear that your dog might be at risk for heat stroke in temperatures as low as 70°F, especially if he is left in the sun or in a locked car. Unlike humans, dogs do not have sweat glands all over their bodies – the only place they can sweat from is the pads of their feet. Dogs also pant to cool themselves down, though this may not work if the air temperature is not significantly cooler than their body temperature. Heat stroke can come upon your dog quickly; once it sets in, it can become dangerous, even fatal.
To protect your dog, learn the signs of heat stroke, which may include the following:
- Excessive panting
- Increased heart rate
- Excessing salivation or drooling
- Bright red tongue
- Pale or gray gums
- Weakness or dizziness
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you need to get him to a cooler area as quickly as possible. Do not cool your dog off too quickly, however, by dousing him in very cold water. Rather, place cool, damp towels around his neck and across his back to slowly reduce his body temperature. Check your dog's body temperature every 5 minutes and stop your cooling methods once the temperature gets below 103°F. Even if your dog seems to be fine at this point, you should still take him to the vet to make sure there is no lasting damage.
Too Hot for your Hound? The Five-Second Rule
Heat stroke can creep up on your dog quickly, and once your dog has heat stroke, it can become very dangerous. The key to preventing heat stroke is to learn how to tell when it is too hot to take your dog outside. Even if you give your dog water during the walk, high temperatures can still be dangerous. In order to tell whether it is too hot to take your dog for a walk outside, follow the five-second rule. All you have to do is place the back of your hand against the pavement and hold it there for five seconds. If the pavement is too hot for you to keep your hand on it for five seconds, it is too hot to take your dog outside. Hot pavement can cause serious damage to your dog's feet on top of the risk for heat stroke in high temperatures. If the pavement is too hot but you still need to give your dog his daily exercise, consider taking him to a dog park where there is plenty of grass and shade from nearby trees to keep things cool.
When the temperatures start to rise, your pup's risk for heat stroke and injury from hot pavement increase exponentially. By using the five-second rule, you can quickly and easily determine whether it is too hot to take your dog out for a walk.
Heat stroke is a deadly condition in dogs that can easily be prevented. Learn how to keep Fido cool as a cucumber by checking out LovePets' tips for a chilled summer with your dog.