With the beautiful, summer sun comes high heat and humidity. High heat can cause overheating in dogs. Although, both high heat and high humidity can make overheating even worse for dogs. For dogs, overheating can happen suddenly. Dogs typically have higher body temperatures than we do, but are difficult to cool because they don’t have the same cooling mechanisms. Dogs only have cooling mechanisms on their nose and the pads of their feet. It is important to remain aware of the way dogs act when they begin to overheat, so that you can keep your dog happy and healthy this summer.
Dogs Prone to Overheating
Certain dogs are more prone to overheat in the summer. These dogs may need to spend more time inside, or need a cooling vest to keep them cool when the heat hits. Depending on your dog’s needs, you can take simple precautions like getting a haircut to keep them cooler during the summer. Below are some of the top types of dogs prone to overheating in times of high heat:
- Thick coated dogs
- Long haired dogs
- Young or Senior Dogs
- Breeds with short noses and flat faces
- Shih Tzus
- Overweight dogs
- Working and Hunting Breeds
Keep in mind that working dogs were bred to stay focused while on the job. This natural instinct can cause them to forget to rest and cool down. Therefore, it is important to watch your dog during active times to make sure they are not overheating.
Mild overheating is present in the early stages of overheating. You may notice that your dog is panting or drooling more than usual. This is a good time to take a break in the shade or to offer your dog some water. By taking action early into the overheating process, you can keep your dog healthy and safe.
Signs of Mild Overheating
Below are several signs of mild overheating in dogs. When you notice any of these behaviors in your dog, take action and start cooling your dog.
- Slow responsiveness
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive thirst
- Glazed eyes
- Lack of coordination and focus (e.g. they may not come when called)
- Rapid heart rate
- Dry gums that become pale
Treating Mild Overheating
You can treat mild overheating by beginning to cool your dog. Place cool towels on your dog’s head and back. This will begin to lower their body temperature at a steady rate. You can also bring your dog to sit in the shade to start cooling them down. Next, offer your dog water in a bowl or from a water bottle. If your dog is overheating, do not give your dog ice. It will cool their system too quickly and bring them into shock. Instead offer your dog ice cubes before overheating, as preventative action.
If you happen to miss the early signs that your dog is overheating, it is important that you notice the severe signs at the very least. We recommend never letting your dog become warm enough where you notice these behaviors. It could mean long-term health damage and even death if handled improperly. Use preventive measures to prevent overheating and to keep your dog safe.
Signs of Severe Overheating
In the case that your dog begins to experience any of the following signs due to overheating, take your dog to the vet immediately. At this stage of overheating, it is difficult for untrained people to re-hydrate and cool the dog in a healthy way. Below are signs of severe overheating:
- Possible collapse or convulsion
- Gums and tongue may be blue or bright red
Treating Severe Overheating
In the case that your dog becomes severely overheated bring your dog to a veterinarian immediately. If you take your dog to the vet, call ahead so that they may prepare oxygen and fluids for your dog before arrival. If your dog loses consciousness go to an animal hospital immediately. Please do not try to treat your dog yourself in this situation. Untrained individuals can do harm in extreme cases of overheating.
Preventing Your Dog from Overheating
1. Limit Exercise
Limit exercise and outdoor activity, instead let your dog go for a swim, or play in the sprinklers. You can also go for walks early in the morning or late at night, during cooler weather. Offer your dog water and breaks on walks. No matter the exercise, always keep watch of your dog. Your dog can still become overheated while playing in the sprinklers or while swimming. If the temperature outside reaches 90 degrees, it is best to keep your dog inside to stay cool.
2. Stay Cool
Cooling body wraps and vests keep them cool without getting them wet. If you do choose to wet your dog, place cool towels on their neck, hind legs, beneath their armpits, and on their head and neck. Cool their paw pads by wetting them after a walk, and protect them by not walking on hot pavement. If walking barefoot burns your feet, it burns their feet too. Not only can the concrete burn their paws, the heat from the concrete or parking lots can very quickly overheat your dog because they are so close to the ground. Use this as a gauge to decide whether it is a good time to go for a walk.
3. Offer Cooling Treats
While your dog enjoys the shade, you can offer them simple homemade treats that can keep them hydrated and cool. For example, you can freeze a few dog treats or cooked meat in an ice cube tray. You can also offer your dog a few cold watermelon balls. This will give your dog new nutrients, while keeping your dog hydrated and cool. Lastly, you can buy commercial ice cream for dogs, and give your dog a scoop or two. Your dog will be delighted by the surprise and the tasty flavor!
4. Stay Out of the Car
Never leave your dog alone in a car. Even in 70 or 80-degree weather, your car acts like an oven, reaching temperatures of over 120 degrees in less than 20 minutes. In some weather, it can feel uncomfortable staying in a car for several minutes – let alone half an hour. Your dog will have the same experience if they are left in a car in high heat and/or high humidity weather. Instead of leaving your dog in the car (even for a minute), leave them at home, inside, where it is cool.
5. Get a Haircut
Dogs will naturally begin to shed their fur in the summer months. It is important to brush your dog’s fur every week or every few days when they are shedding more often. This will help prevent your dog for being insulated by their coat. For dogs with longer coats, it is important to give your dog a haircut when the summer months come. Take a trip to the grooming salon and you will be able to more easily keep your dog cool during these warm months.
6. Always Provide Fresh Water
Always give your dog fresh water. In hot weather, dogs can become dehydrated quickly. If you are traveling by foot, on a bike, or in a car, always bring a portable water bowl for your dog. If you have not yet bought a portable water bowl, share your water bottle with your dog. They will be grateful for it!
Dogs can become overheated very suddenly. It is important to prevent any occurrences of severe overheating and dehydration. If severely overheated, your dog can go into cardiac arrest or have a seizure. Signs of mild overheating include glazing of the eyes, excessive panting and drooling, and a lack of coordination. Prevent your dog from overheating by keeping fresh water always available, cooling them with wet towels, and limiting exercise. By staying aware and taking preventive measures, you and your dog can enjoy the summer weather in a fun and healthy way.
About the Author:
Alyson is a lead dog care expert and the main author at Woof Woof Dog Supplies. Everyday, she puts on a superhero suit, and she helps dog owners effortlessly (and affordably) take care of their dog’s health.