It’s Hot Out!!! Boy has it been hot recently and more than likely more to come in the next days and weeks. Our double-coated guys can really suffer in this weather if we aren’t careful. The good news is those thick white coats also help protect from the heat. My Sammy does better than my Labrador a lot of the time. Two big things to worry about in this heat:
- Burned paws: Do you know about the 5 second test? If it is too hot for you to press the back of your hand to the pavement for 5 seconds, it is too hot for your dog to walk on that pavement. Simple as that. Wait for it to cool off or find shade so they don’t burn their pads. Blistered pads can take days to heal up and are quite painful.
- Heat stroke: Early symptoms can include excessive and rapid panting (even more than usual for our guys), bright red tongue, red or pale gums, thick sticky saliva, increased agitation (which makes it worse) followed by listlessness and lethargy, maybe diarrhea, vomiting, and sometimes reddening of the skin inside their ears. Fast action may save a life!
Get your dog somewhere cooler. Offer water - but the one time I was involved in rescuing a dog from heat stroke he refused water until he had cooled down some first. And even then he “drank” only by licking his wet legs and paws.
Wet the dog to the skin, especially around the neck and paws/legs. It isn’t always easy to get our guys wet so using shampoo or soap can help a lot. You can worry about washing it out later.
If available, set a fan on low blowing at them to assist with cooling.
Normal body temp for a dog is 100-102.5. Generally you can discontinue cooling measures when body temp is down to 103 or lower but who has time to find the thermometer and take a temperature in the heat of the moment? As your dog begins to be interested in licking water or drinking water, his panting has slowed, he seems to begin to have more energy again, his tongue, gums and ears return to normal color, you can begin to relax, maybe turn off the fan, maybe begin to rinse out the soap.
Head for the vet ASAP after the initial cool down if your dog had full blown symptoms, even if (s)he seems OK. (S)he may be severely dehydrated, may be in or near in shock, etc.
Best of all to avoid the above by:
- Avoid hot surfaces
- Provide access to cool (not too cold) water at all times
- Restrict exercise in the heat of the day unless maybe it involves playing in water