Hot Diggety Dog: Keeping Your Canine Cool

Dogs — By on September 17, 2011

Don’t let your hound get too hot during the dog days of summer. Wearing a fur coat all year long can be a bit much. Heat stroke kills many dogs each summer. Fortunately there are ways to help them keep their cool.

Dogs usually have a body temperature of between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If their temperature goes above 105 degrees, the Shih Tzu can hit the fan.

Breeds with thick coats and smooshy faces (brachycephalic if you want to get technical) are particularly at risk. Alas, St. Bernards were not bred to rescue parched sunbathers with a barrel of Mai Tais. If you’re living in the tropics, take into account which breeds will fit best.

Overweight dogs are also more prone to overheating. Accordingly, cooling treats like Häagen Daags may not be the best thing for your pup in the long run. Ice chips, on the other hand, are diamonds in the ruff.

Keep your Chia pets shaved during warm weather. But be careful to leave some fur in order to protect your dog’s skin from sunburn. You may also consider evaporative pet gear such as bandannas or doggie vests. These cooling accouterments work well but need monitoring because when they dry out the opposite can be true.

Does your pooch play patty-cake in the water bowl? Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow, but dogs pant to cool off. Dogs only have a few sweat glands on the pads of their paws. This explains why some canines enjoy digging in their water bowl. Supply a backup bucket in case you, the humble servant, is not around for refills.

Your lazy Lhasa, reluctant Rottie, and chubby Chihuahua will like this one; On hot days, it may be healthier to let your couch pupato rest under a tree. Avoid hot pavement and hot times of the day. Choose locales with shade and water sources available (but beware, salt water can be dehydrating).

A good rule of paw: If it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for your pooch. Measures need to be taken to keep pets cool inside and outside your home. Some abodes may need to be cooled by fans or air conditioning even if you are gone for the day. If you have a yard that doesn’t have trees, create some shaded areas by installing shade sails. Don’t tell your Lab but kiddie pools provide more than just splish splash fun.

Not just your goose will be cooked if you leave your pup unattended in a vehicle. During warm weather, resist bringing your dog on car trips no matter how effective a guilt trip Fido may lay on you. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, even with your windows cracked, the temperature in your car can increase by 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes.

If you absolutely must leave your dog unattended in a vehicle, park in the shade and leave your windows open to provide adequate ventilation. Even better, leave the AC on but be warned, especially active or clever pups have been known to hijack cars. Bring along an extra key in case your pooch locks you out.

Rapid panting, glassy eyes and bright red gums are some of the symptoms of heat stroke. If you think your canine is overheating, hose him down (don’t forget the belly and foot pads), immerse him in cool water, or apply soaked towels.  Use cool but not freezing water in order not to shock the system. Call your vet.

Don’t be cavalier about your Cavalier’s temperature. Be cool. Give your pooch more than a dog’s chance by making his environment a comfortable temperature. You can relish the fact that the only hot dogs around will be the treats you use.

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