Now that we are finally moving towards warm weather here in the PNW, we are all ready to get out and soak in the rays with our families and pets! Even our dogs are happier with the sun shining down on them and soaking up much-needed vitamin D. Many people are getting out for long hikes, runs, and adventures with their four-legged partners -- and while everyone is excited to finally be able to enjoy sunny weather in the PNW with their dogs -- everyone needs to be aware of how much heat their dog(s) can tolerate.
Dogs, just like humans, can readily suffer from heat exhaustion and stroke. It’s safe to say that most responsible dog owners know this: it's a terrible idea to leave your dog in a car with outside temps higher than 75 degrees and no open windows, no water, and no way to stay cool.
Every year we are made aware of the dangers of dogs left in cars with windows up and no water during the hot months. What we're not so aware of are the dangers of being outdoors in the heat with our dogs -- engaging in activities -- and not providing them the ability to manage the heat and cool down.
One of the most common activities we see people engaging in is jogging with dogs. Undoubtedly great for all involved, but a little planning and forethought about a run with your buddy can go a long way in helping them (and you) avoid heat exhaustion and stroke. Obviously, pick the coolest times of day to go for that run with Fido. Just as obvious is the readily availability of water for them. Age and physical ability (a Husky vs. a Chihuahua) is also a factor in deciding when, where, and for how long you should go running with your buddy! Know where you can take short breaks in shade and provide water. Don't overdo it, and if the day is projected to be over 80 degrees, maybe skipping activities that day is the better choice.
Dogs don't deal with heat like we do. They don't perspire like us. In fact, they only sweat via the pads on their feet! The main way they cool themselves down is by panting and exchanging temperature via convection to cool their skin. So, things get dangerous quickly if the environment is too hot and your buddies can't release the heat from their bodies -- heatstroke!
Some signs of heatstroke in dogs include:
- Excessive panting
- Increased salivation
- Bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
- Sudden weakness
- Thick and sticky drool
DO NOT use ice, ice chips or ice water either on them, or let them ingest. The sudden difference in temperature can cause other problems. Normal cool tap water will suffice. Continue with cooling, but don't go too far and put them in hypothermia. It's also a good idea to get to the vet to have them continue monitoring your beloved partner to ensure their full recovery.
Don't be afraid of going out and having fun with Fido! Just be aware of your environment and your dog's needs. Plan accordingly, and bring enough water for both of you. If you're too hot, so is your dog. Take breaks and slow it down. That way you'll both have the best day possible!
Keep these important tips in mind and it will be a Happy Summer for all!
** This important blog post was written by our Lead Trainer: Mark Dunlap