How to Keep your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat
Heat stress in dogs is a serious issue and owners need to be aware of the signs of a dog overheating, as well as how to keep their dogs cool should they get overheated. Dogs have an inherent susceptibility to heat stroke!
Why dogs are prone to heat stroke
Dogs deal with excessive environmental heat very differently than humans do.
In dogs, the heat losing mechanism is primarily by panting. The tongue swells up, filling with warm blood, and air is forced over rapidly over the tongue. The dog pants, with fast, shallow breathing at the natural resonant frequency of the airways. Warm moisture evaporates from the tongue and is exhaled into the environment while the cooled blood returns from the tongue to the body.
There are 2 main factors that lead to dogs suffering from heat stroke:
Situations leading to heat stroke in dogs
Cars are still the most likely location for heat stroke in dogs, The enclosed area, with limited air space, surrounded by heat-intensifying glass, creates a dangerous combination of factors. You must never leave dogs unattended in cars! If travelling with dogs, use air conditioning to keep the car cool. Provide plenty of fresh water, either using a non-spill water bowl or by stopping regularly to offer a drink. When travelling, take regular breaks, taking the dog for short walks in the shade to ensure that they are comfortable and healthy.
The second, less well recognised situation that leads to heat stroke in dogs happens when they are taken for vigorous exercise in the heat of the day. Dogs love to exercise, and the vigorous muscle activity involved generates a high amount of heat inside the body. When this is added to the heat entering a dog's body by radiation from sunshine, the result can be a rapidly increasing core body temperature. Affected dogs may collapse, panting, in the middle of a walk, with the dog flopping down as if exhausted. Typically, the dog will refuse to get up and walk when their owner calls them, and may even need to be carried back from the walk. Owners are usually unaware that their dog is suffering from overheating, and it's only when the dog's temperature is taken at the vet that this becomes apparent. The consequences of this delayed treatment can be life threatening.
Some dogs are more prone to heat stroke than others:
How to prevent heat stroke
How to treat a dog with heat stroke