It’s hot out there! Temperatures surged all across the U.S. this week, with most states experiencing temperatures over 90 degrees.
Just like humans, dogs get uncomfortable in high temperatures, and untreated heat-related illness can do permanent damage. Dogs have a hard time expressing their discomfort to us, however. Learn the most important health concerns to watch out for in your dog this summer, from dog heat stroke to pad burn and dehydration.
Heat Stroke in Dogs
Just as in people, heat stroke can be deadly to animals. Untreated, heat stroke can also lead to lasting damage in dogs. Watch out for these symptoms:
- Pale gums and a bright tongue
- Unusual breathing (rapid and loud)
- Difficulty breathing
- High rectal temperature
- Thick saliva
- Weakness and/or fatigue
- Frequent vomiting
- Skin around muzzle of neck doesn’t snack back when pinched
- Bloody diarrhea
If your dog is experiencing advanced symptoms such as vomiting and bloody diarrhea, it is an indication that the condition is severe, and you should take the dog to the vet immediately. If you’ve only noticed a few symptoms, immediately take your dog to a shady area of your home or yard and try one or all of these methods to bring the dog’s temperature down:
- Access to water: Make sure your dog has access to cool, clean water in order to keep your dog hydrated and avoid having heat stroke progress.
- A cool bath: Be sure that the temperature isn’t too cold as this can be a shock to the system. Run the water over the dog’s head (avoiding getting water in the ears) and down the body to help expedite the cooling.
- A cool hose: A gentle hosing down in a shady area is a great way to bring down the temperature. Make sure that the stream is gentle so that it falls lightly on the dog. A strong stream could scare and harm your pup.
- Damp towels: Apply damp, cool towels to the chest, head, neck and armpits of your dog to expedite the cooling process.
Pad Burn in Dogs
Pad burns occur on dogs’ paws after they walk on hot pavement or asphalt. They can be extremely painful for your dog and can require immediate medical attention.
To prevent these burns, try walking the dog on dirt or grass paths. Avoid walking your dog on black asphalt, as it is very, very hot and can burn the pads instantly. Test the pavement and asphalt before you let your dog walk on it; if it’s too hot to keep your hand or foot on it for 30 seconds, then it’s too hot for your pup. You can also use puppy boots to keep their feet protected.
Symptoms of pad burns include:
- Refusing to walk or limping
- Darker than usual or discolored pads
- Excessive licking or biting of feet
- Visible blisters or extreme redness
- Missing parts of the pads
If you notice these symptoms, seek immediate vet assistance. If this isn’t an option, keep your dog in a cool grassy area to minimize the pain. Also keep a firm eye on the conditions of their pads, as they can easily become infected. Flush the feet with cool water and try to prevent your dog from licking them to minimize infection.
Dehydration in Dogs
Both you and your dog should drink plenty of fluids all summer long. Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink, especially when it’s hot. Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Sunken eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth and gums
- Lack of elasticity in skin
- Weak pulse
- Elevated heart rate
If your dog is exhibiting these signs, mix an electrolyte solution with the dog’s water at a rate of two to four milliliter per pound of your dog’s body weight per hour. You can also feed the dog some potassium-rich foods, such as bananas or nuts, so long as the dog is not allergic. You can also add a little salt, sugar, and lime juice to the water bowl. Seek immediate medical attention if your dog is vomiting or exhibiting other serious symptoms.
More Tips for Keeping Your Dog Comfortable During the Summer Heat
- Walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.
- Stick to dirt paths or walkways when walking your dog.
- Never leave your dog in a parked car. Temperatures can skyrocket and become fatal in as little as 30 minutes.
- Move outside dogs, inside.
- Open screen windows when dogs are inside to create a cool cross breeze.
- Make sure your dog has access to plenty of shade and water if outside.
- Don’t depend on fans—use the air conditioning if available.
- Try DIY frozen treats or a fun ice lick for dogs.
Keep cool out there, and if you have any more tips and tricks for keeping dogs safe this summer, please share!
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.