By Jean Anselmi

    Summer arrived late this year and it seems everybody is making up for lost time and getting out and about. But like every summer, I have seen clearly loved dogs being walked in the heat of the day and worry about their wellbeing. My guess is that people tend to forget from year to year, a bit like how we get caught out on the first hot day without sunscreen.

    Unfortunately, heatstroke in dogs is not uncommon at this time of year. Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition caused by the elevation of a dog’s body temperature. 

    Although people also suffer heatstroke, heatstrokes in dogs are more likely because they:

    • have a coat on all year around. Some have coats like puffer jackets, but even short coats insulate heat.
    • only sweat around their paws and nose, which doesn’t help cool them a lot. Their major outlet to cool down is to pant which moves cool air through their noses and around their body, but panting is not particularly effective if there is no cool air available. 
    • like being active and are generally not good judges about when they are exercising too much.
    What does heatstroke look like?

    A body temperature above 40 degrees is an early sign of heatstroke, but you may not find it easy to take your dog’s temperature so here are other signs you can look for:

    • distress
    • excessive panting
    • excess saliva
    • change in gum colour to bluish-purple or bright red.

    What can you do?

    The most important thing is to get the body temperature back down to a normal level. Other than mild cases, caring for your dog at home is unlikely to be enough. Heatstroke usually requires intravenous fluids as well as other interventions to save the animal.

    Take your dog to the vet, but on the way cool your pet as best you can. Blast the air-conditioning, spray them with water and make sure there is plenty of clean water to drink. 

    How can you prevent heatstroke?

    In warm weather a closed car gets hot very quickly so never leave your dog alone in a car.

    Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink. More than one bowl of water placed in shady locations is a good idea.

    Provide shady locations for your dog if they are outside during hot weather.

    Do not walk your dog when the temperature is above 25 degrees. 

    Take water with you when you walk your dog, or make sure you know where you can find water on the way.

    Walk on grass so that your dog doesn’t get burnt paws from hot concrete pathways.

    Consider keeping your dog’s coat short for summer by visiting a dog groomer.

    Alternative entertainment ideas for hot weather

    Most dogs love running around under sprinklers. A cheap way to get hours of fun. 

    Shell pools are another cheap alternative for water play. 

    Hollow rubber toys can be stuffed with wet food or peanut butter and frozen. Licking the frozen food out can entertain your dog as well as being cooling.

    Another great frozen treat tip is to save a takeaway container, fill it with water, adding some spoons of peanut butter, treats, meat, or kibble and freeze it. On a hot day your dog will be licking this icy lolly and keeping cool for hours.

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