In times of hot weather, dogs pant through their mouths and perspire through their paws to expel heat from their body. Unfortunately, these coping mechanisms are not always effective, and it's easy to overestimate your dog's ability to handle intense heat. Without taking special measures, your beloved companion can be vulnerable to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.
Set Out Extra Water
Your dog will naturally drink extra water on hot days. To ensure that your dog stays sufficiently hydrated, set an alarm to check your dog's bowl periodically. If you're not at home during the day, fill your dog's bowl extra full or provide a second bowl of water to ensure an ample supply. If your dog is left at home alone on weekdays while you're at work, make sure the bowl is weighted and unable to be tipped by enthusiastic slurping.
Provide Shade and Access to Cool Spaces
If your dog is left outside during the day, make sure that he or she has shade trees or a dog house where he or she can seek shelter. If your dog is kept indoors, set your thermostat to keep your house cool throughout the day, or provide access to your cool, dark basement.
Exercise in the Morning
Going for a run and engaging in other intense exercise during the heat of the day can be dangerous. If you and your dog engage in a regular exercise regimen together, get up extra early on hot days, so you can get your daily activities out of the way before temperatures rise.
Watch for Signs of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke in dogs can manifest itself in many ways. On hot days, watch your dog for the following symptoms of heat stroke:
- Excessive panting and drooling
- Vomiting blood
- Red gums
- Reduced urine output (or no urine)
- Wobbly, uncoordinated movements
- Disorientation, confusion
- Difficulty breathing
- Bloody stools
If your dog displays any of these symptoms, get your dog out of the sun, use cool water to dampen your dog's coat, and contact a veterinarian, like Murrells Inlet Veterinary Hospital, immediately. If your dog's veterinarian is unavailable, contact an emergency animal clinic.
During the summer when temperatures rise, your standard dog care procedures must change slightly to ensure the safety and well-being of your canine companion. For more tips and advice about the best ways to protect your dog, talk with his or her veterinarian at your dog's next appointment.