How to tell if your dog is overheated and what to do about it?

May 30th, 2018

Do you know the 5-second rule?

No, not Mel Robbins (which, by the way, you should definitely check out here, if you haven’t heard about her lifechanging 5- second rule)

I’m talking about the 5 Second Rule that says ‘on a hot summer’s day, if you can’t keep your hand on the pavement for 5 seconds, don’t walk your dog on it!’

I think I’m right in saying that we all enjoy this warm, sunny weather? Even though we want to enjoy this experience with our dogs as much as possible too (because we just don’t know how long it’s going to last!) we have to be very careful not to let our dogs overheat.

At this time of the year, I usually walk my dog very early in the morning or late at night. Especially my Scotties, with their thick coat and short legs, and their bodies close to the hot ground, they don’t enjoy the heat. I always have to make sure there are plenty of shaded areas on our walks, and a place to rest, away from the sunlight.

As we know, dogs cool down by panting, not sweating. But when a dog is overheated:

  • The panting becomes more rapid and excessive
  • The gums, tongue, and skin around the eyes becomes dark pink or red
  • The dog is drooling a thick saliva
  • The dog has a worried, anxious expression as he is in distress.

Some breeds are more prone to heatstroke than others. Brachycephalic breeds like the Bulldog, Pug, and Boxer have more difficulties cooling the air through their very short nasal cavities. Dogs with a heavy double coat, short legged dogs, old dogs, young puppies, and overweight dogs are more vulnerable to overheating.

Overheating can be life-threatening if not treated immediately, noticing the early signs of heat exhaustion will reduce the chances of canine heatstroke and death.

What do you do?

1/ Give your dog cool, fresh water to drink, but don’t force him. If he doesn’t want to drink wet his tongue, but don’t pour it into his mouth as he may suck it into his lungs.

2/ Put a cool towel on your dog’s throat, armpits and between his back legs, and wet his ears and paw pads. If you are outdoors, a stream or pond can be used to help him cool down.

3/ If your dog is not improving, transport him to the vet. Your dog may have to receive oxygen, some fluids, and other treatments. With severe overheating, seizure and/or cardiac arrest may occur

Check our other blog post from last year, Clip or not to clip, that explains why shaving your dog in summer is also not a good idea.

Stay cool and hydrated, until next week!

Jitka xx

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