Tips for the Cool Pooch
In the last week, I have heard about two (possibly three) separate cases of heat stroke in dogs. With the temperature close to 90 degrees and the “feels-like” temperature in the 100’s, it’s no surprise. While this is perfect pool weather, it’s not always a friendly environment for your dog. So, what exactly is heat stroke and how do you keep your furry friend happy and cool?
It’s All Fun and Games…
It’s all fun and games until someone overheats. But what is heat stroke? Heat stroke can occur when the body temperature rises to 105-107 degrees. This is usually the result of exposure to high environmental temperatures and/or strenuous activity.
Overheating can exhibit as a dog that is merely seeking a cool environment, laying on the concrete, in the shade or digging in the dirt. You will notice heavy panting and your dog’s gums may be bright red in color or even purple.
As it progresses, the muscles are affected and your dog may walk with a strange gait or appear weak. This can eventually lead to collapse.
Some dogs will vomit or have diarrhea and some problems may not even develop for 3-5 days after the initial incident.
A Little First Aid
If you think your dog might be suffering from heat stroke the first step is to get them out of the heat. I know, common sense, right? Take them inside an air-conditioned building or in front of a fan. A tile or concrete floor will help to cool them as well. Wet their belly and paw pads or even completely wet them with cool, not cold, water. That fan may come in handy again at this point.
Now that you know the potential dangers, how do you make sure your furry family member enjoys the summer weather safely?
It may seem like common sense, but the most important summer safety tip is to make sure your dog always has access to water. A full bucket in the shade is really all it takes but if you want to take it up a notch there are ways to make water more fun…
Add a few ice cubes to the bucket of water and you have a ready-made toy. It’s the summer version of bobbing for apples!
Freeze the bucket of water and set the large chunk of ice out for your dog to lick. You can even add treats so there is a special surprise inside or flavor it with a little low sodium chicken or beef broth. Make sure to leave regular water out for drinking.
Everyone Loves a Pool
Dogs are no exception. Plastic baby pools are easy to come by and relatively cheap. Add a little water and you’ll have a happy pup. Make it even more fun by adding water toys.
If you already have a pool of your own feel free to share with your pup. Always supervise your dog and make sure he or she can get out when ready. Make sure to rinse them off well when done swimming to get the chlorine out of their fur!
Dogs always look stylish with a pretty bandana. Try wetting or freezing the bandana prior to having your dog sport the look. You can even find specialized cooling cloths or bandanas for dogs that are made specifically for this purpose.
More Than a Bed
Big fluffy dog beds are great in the winter but often a bit warm for summer, even in the cool air-conditioned house. A summer bed is just the thing to keep your furry family member cool and well rested.
Beds that are raised and allow airflow beneath your dog are ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. Check out Pinterest for some DIY ideas!
Cooling mats are perfect for summer. These are thin mats that contain a special gel that cools on contact. Just make sure your furry friend doesn’t chew on the matt!
Heat stroke is a very serious condition that can lead to death if severe enough or not treated. Always monitor your dog closely during outdoor activity and limit that activity on warmer days. You don’t want a game of fetch to cost your furry fiend his or her life! Pay very close attention to brachycephalic breeds, those are the smushed nosed dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs. They’re much more sensitive to the heat!
If you are concerned your dog may be overheating please call Capitol Illini Veterinary Services at our Chatham or Wabash locations. Oh, and always have a thermometer handy! Knowing the temperature will help us to assess the seriousness.
We’d love to hear your favorite summer fun activities and ways that you and your pooch keep cool. Head over to our Facebook page and let us know. We love pics!!