How to Keep Your HOT DOGS Cool This Summer
It’s that time of year – picnics, hikes, pool parties are everywhere! Is it safe to bring your dog with you in all of this heat? Most dogs can be healthy and active in the heat, provided they get plenty of access to fresh drinking water and shade. The exception is all smooshy-faced or brachycephalic dogs who have a harder time regulating their temperatures due to their shorter nasal passages. Dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers are more sensitive to rising temperatures.
All dogs' sweat glands are pretty much limited to their paw pads, so they have a unique two-part cooling strategy: panting and vasodilation. Panting provides 80% of a dog’s cooling power. They breathes rapidly, bringing cooler air into contact with the moist tissues inside their mouth and lungs, where that moisture can evaporate and dissipate heat. At the same time, the blood vessels in their head expand, allowing the blood to be closer to the surface to cool off before it cycles back deeper into their body.
Here are some things you can try to keep them cool:
· Offer an ice pack, wet towel or cooling mat to lay on
· Offer access to a baby pool with cool water
· Make sure you have shade for your pup – it can feel up to 20 degrees cooler in the shade
· Bring a collapsible water dish on your walks
· Avoid walking on hot pavement – if it’s too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog
· Get your walks & playtime in during the early morning or evening times when it's cooler outside
· Give your dog some homemade frozen treats:
-Freeze ripe bananas in advance. Remove from freezer & place in a blender (you can also add fresh fruit and/or peanut butter if you'd like). Spread the blended mixture into an ice cube tray & refreeze
-Freeze chicken, beef or vegetable broth in ice cube trays and give your pup a tasty ice cube treat
-Blend any dog-friendly fruits with a little plain yogurt & freeze in ice cube trays or cupcake tins
Dogs can have heat stroke too! Know the warning signs:
· Raised temperature (101.5° is normal)
· Rapid breathing & panting
· Excessive salivation & thickened saliva
· Fatigue or depression
· Muscle tremors
If you spot these signs, get your dog inside immediately and contact your veterinarian. They may tell you to wrap your dog in cold wet towels, especially the underarms/belly/groin area and get them to the vet ASAP. DON'T use an ice bath because it may cool them down too quickly and can cause shock.
Dehydration in dogs - know these signs too:
· Sunken eyes
· Dry mouth
· Gently scruff a fold of skin at the top of the neck - is it slow to snap back?
· Gently press your finger on the gums - does the pink color come back slowly or not at all?
Dehydration can be deadly! Not all signs of dehydration are easy to detect. If you suspect your dog may be dehydrated, a trip to the vet is recommended. Young & senior dogs are more susceptible to dehydration. Offer clean, cool water. If your dog won’t drink, try adding a splash of chicken broth (low sodium), flavorless Pedialyte, ice cubes, or pieces of a favorite fruit to the bowl to encourage them to drink.
To shave or not to shave?
Many people ask if they should shave their dog's fur in the summertime. Shaving all that fur off may seem like it makes perfect sense, but vets, breeders and groomers agree that shaving isn’t a great idea. In fact, even the fluffiest, double-coated dog regulates body temperature better with fur intact. How can that be? Many dog breeds sport a natural "double coat". The term refers to a combination of long, stiff guard hairs and short, fluffy dense hairs, which is common to many breeds including retrievers, terriers, and herding breeds. The double coat is waterproof, protective, and insulates your dog not only from cold, but also from heat. Just like the insulation in your house helps it to maintain a constant temperature, the insulating fluff of a double coat reduces temperature changes in your dog. That way, he doesn’t have to work as hard to stay comfortable.
Not sure if your dog has a double coat? An easy, general guideline is if your dog has hair (i.e. their hair grows and needs regular hair cuts), then they typically don’t have an undercoat or double-coat. Poodles, Yorkies and Malteses are examples of the dogs who do not have an undercoat.
There can be some medical reasons for shaving your dog. If your dog suffers from hot spots, shaving may be necessary. If your dog is heavily matted, it is required to shave them to prevent pain and skin sores. If you do shave your dog, be aware that your dog is at a greater risk of sunburn, skin cancer and heat stroke.
We hope this information is helpful in keeping your canine companion safe & cool during these hot months so we can all enjoy the summer!