Advice from a Veterinarian Dogs and Hot Weather
Heat can be dangerous for pets, especially outdoor dogs. A veterinarian explains how to keep a dog cool and avoid heat stress and heat stroke in the summer.
Summer can be hard on dogs that are outdoors all day. But even an indoor dog can raise its body temperature if it goes outside for a few minutes. Dr. Bryan Welty, veterinarian at Capitol Animal Clinic in Lincoln, Nebraska, shares some tips for keeping a dog cool in the summer.
How to Treat Heat Stroke or Heat Stress in Dogs
Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors are most susceptible to heat illnesses, but even indoor dogs can get heat stroke, said Dr. Welty. Dogs do not sweat, he explained. The only way they have of expelling heat is through their pads and through their tongue, and it is an extraordinarily inefficient system. A dog that goes outside and runs around the yard for just a few minutes can dramatically increase its body temperature.
The symptoms of heat stress in a dog include disorientation, excessive panting and not wanting to eat or drink. Although they need water, they refuse to drink.
If you sense that your dog is experiencing heat stress, you need to step in and help them cool down. Putting them next to a fan or air conditioner can help. Another effective method is to put the dog in a bathtub with lukewarm water and then slowly add cool water. Because the heat is expelled through the foot pads, you only need a few inches of water in the tub.
Its extremely important that you start with lukewarm water and then cool the water gradually. Dr. Welty explained that when a pets body temperature increases, the blood flow to the body increases as well. If you pour cold water on a pets body, the capillaries are going to instantly constrict, which can cause a potentially life-threatening blood clot. Its imperative that you do not dump cool water on your pet, he said.