Edison and Co. are a high energy pack of dingoes and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are always up for long walks and urban hikes, running NASCAR laps in the backyard and sprinting faster than the wind wherever they can.
One of my favorite ways of connecting with my boys, and keeping them healthy and mentally sound, is taking them to the reclusive dog park across the street for no-humans-allowed dog play, where dog etiquette and dog needs reign supreme.
I love this time with them because they can just be dogs, safely off leash in an enclosed space (This is especially important for deaf dogs. Read more deaf dog safety tips here) and catching up on the local dog gossip by sniffing the grass, trees and stumps of wood.Once the play bowing begins, all hell breaks loose. They move as a pack, taking off in all directions, chasing or being chased, charging in to cut each off at the pass and leaving a storm of dust and dog hair in their wake. They need it, I love it, and the exercise and dog-rules-only playtime is really, really good for them.
As we are quickly moving into the hottest months of the year, I do have to take extra-precautions to keep them safe. All that outdoor hot weather exercise places them at increased risk for heat stroke. Here are a few simple and easy tips to keep your dog from overheating and a few suggestions for how to respond if your magic dog does overheat. Though I am a credentialed veterinary technician, you should definitely talk about heatstroke prevention and appropriate treatment with your dog’s veterinarian.
Who’s Most At Risk?
Though any dog can experience heatstroke, there are important risk factors that increase the chances that your dog will overheat. Here are just a few.
- Very young or very old dogs
- Brachycephalic breeds (those adorable smushed-faced dogs) such as Pugs, English Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Boxers and others.
- Overweight dogs
- Dogs with a thick or long-hair coat
- Limited or no access to water
Know The Signs!
- Increased panting
- Excessive drooling
- Red (not pink) gums or tongue
- Wobbly or uncoordinated gait
- Inability to stand
- Elevated body temperature. Use a rectal thermometer- any above 103 degrees is dangerous.
- Contact your veterinarian or an emergency hospital immediately! Heatstroke is a medical emergency and veterinary care is critical.
- Offer small amounts of cool, not cold, water. Do not force your dog to drink though.
- A cool water bath or wrap cool, wet towels around your dog, especially on his or her abdomen and inner thighs.
- Rubbing alcohol on the paw pads, the abdomen, inner thighs and those comical ears.
- Because it bears repeating…contact your veterinarian or an emergency hospital immediately! Heatstroke is a medical emergency and veterinary care is critical.
Know How To Prevent Heatstroke!
- Always make sure clean, fresh water is available. Take a travel water bowl and bottled water with you on hikes or to the dog park. PetSafe has an outdoor water fountain that hooks up to a hose and continuously circulates and aerates filtered water. Check out the Drinkwell® Everflow Indoor/Outdoor Fountain.
- Limit exercise during the hottest time of the day. Go on walks or to the dog park during the morning or evening hours when it is cooler outside.
- If you must walk or play in the late morning or afternoon, keep it short.
- Use plastic kiddie pools for your dogs to splash around in and cool off.
- Carry a spray with you to mist and cool ’em down. My dogs actually love it and think it’s a fantastically fun game.
- Watch for any signs of heatstroke. If you think your dog might be overheating, stop, get them indoors, follow the tips above to start cooling them down and contact your vet immediately.
Deaf Dog Considerations…
- If you have an unpigmented deaf dog, or hearing dog for that matter, please remember that he or she may be extra-sensitive to the sun. Using a pet-safe sunscreen will help prevent sunburn.
- Some deaf dogs have light-sensitive eyes. If you deafie is one of these, a pair of Doggles will keep your dog’s eyes safe. Click here to see Nitro from Deaf Dogs Rock rockin’ his pair of Doggles and driving all the ladies wild with desire!
Now that summer is almost here, make sure you take time each day to play and connect with your dogs. Get out there and enjoy some hot summer lovin’ but do it safely. Heatstroke can happen very quickly.
What is your favorite way to keep your dogs cool in summer? Has your dog ever overheated? Leave a comment and join the discussion!