How To Keep Your Dog Cool In The Heat

You adore your dog through every season and no matter the weather. But there is something truly special about spending time with your dog in the summer months. The backyard beckons. Short walks evolve into long ones. You set off on adventures to the park, the beach, or the lake. Keep in mind, however, that the risk of dehydration and heatstroke in dogs rises along with the temperatures of the season.

While you can reach for a glass of water or sit in a cool spot whenever necessary, on blistering days your dog depends on you to ensure his water bowl is filled with fresh, cool water, that he’s drinking enough, and that he’s cooling down when the going gets too darn hot.

Read on to learn how to prevent dehydration, overheating, and heatstroke in your dog, spot the warning signs of these dangerous conditions and keep your best friend cool, hydrated, and safe all through the dog days.

How To Keep Your Dog Cool In The House

  1. Keep the house cool.
  2. Make sure there is an ample supply of cool water; clean his water bowl daily to prevent the buildup of bacteria that can cause illness, and keep the toilet bowl lids closed.
  3. If you will be gone all day, close the shades or curtains before you go.
  4. Keep your dog well-groomed. Trim his coat to about an inch in length if possible. And brush his coat regularly—the buildup of excess hair can trap heat.

How To Keep Your Dog Cool In The Yard

  1. Make sure your dog has access to cool, shady spots.
  2. Keep his water bowl filled with cool water.
  3. On very hot days, cool him down with a supervised dip in the pool or use a garden hose to wet his coat.

How To Keep Your Dog Cool Out And About

  1. Never leave your dog alone in a parked car. The temperature in the car will rise dangerously high, even with the windows cracked. This puts your dog at immediate risk for heat exhaustion, suffocation, and heatstroke.
  2. Stick to the shade as much as possible when you walk your dog.
  3. If you exercise with your dog, avoid extreme heat and humidity; go outside in the morning or evening when it’s cooler, and stop frequently to give him sips of cool water.
  4. After vigorous exercise, hold back the water bowl and instead give him sips of water until his excessive panting stops; gulping water can cause stomach problems.
  5. Avoid scorching pavement that can burn your dog’s pads. And know that heat rising from the pavement impacts him more than it does you because he is closer to the ground.

Quick Tip: Water is Important for Your Dog

Your dog’s body is comprised of 60 percent water just like your own. Drinking enough is crucial for keeping his body functioning properly. Drinking too little water can quickly lead to dehydration in your dog, especially in the heat, when fluids are lost more rapidly. If not reversed, dehydration can quickly become a health emergency, leading to organ damage and, ultimately, organ shutdown and death.

Dog Dehydration

The loss of body fluid in hot weather through panting, combined with an inadequate water supply, is a common cause of dehydration in dogs. Other common causes are vomiting, diarrhea, some medications, and underlying health issues. If your dog’s water consumption is regularly far under or far over the general guideline, or if it changes suddenly, it’s time to visit the vet.

Symptoms Of Dehydration In Dogs:

  1. Sunken eyes
  2. Lethargy
  3. Loss of appetite
  4. Depression
  5. Dry mouth
  6. Dry gums
  7. Dry nose

If your dog shows these symptoms, take him to the vet immediately.

How To Check Your Dog For Dehydration:

  1. Gently lift a fold of loose skin from the back of your dog’s neck or between his shoulder blades then release it. If he’s healthy, the skin should return to normal immediately. If he’s dehydrated, the skin will stay lifted for a time before settling back into place. The longer the skin stays lifted, the more dehydrated he is.
  2. Press your finger against your dog’s gums until they turn white, then remove your finger. His gums should return to pink immediately. This is called capillary refill time. Your dog is likely dehydrated if it takes unusually long for his gums to turn pink again. (Take a minute to do this when he is healthy and well hydrated and note the refill time so you have a baseline for comparison later on.)

How Much Water Should A Dog Drink Per Day?

The general guideline for canine water consumption is about one ounce of water per pound of body weight. As an example, a healthy adult male border collie weighing 40 pounds would need approximately 40 ounces of water each day, or five cups of water. When the weather gets sultry, that amount should increase.

Many pet owners assume their dog will automatically drink the right amount of water if it’s accessible. While often that’s the case, it’s a good idea to pay attention to how much your dog is drinking each day, especially in hot weather, so you know for sure he is getting enough.

Heat Stroke In Dogs

Your dog gets rid of elevated body heat through panting and drinking cool water. He’ll also seek out a shady, cool spot when he gets hot. But on scorching days or after physical exertion in the heat, your dog needs you to take extra precautions to ensure his temperature doesn’t rise to the point of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when your dog’s natural ability to dissipate heat fails. While all dog breeds are at risk, flat-faced breeds in particular—for example, pugs, who don’t pant efficiently—as well as elderly dogs, obese dogs, dogs with thick fur, and dogs with heart or lung disease, are at higher risk. Field dogs must also be watched closely because they are unlikely to stop hunting or retrieving even if they become dangerously overheated.

Symptoms Of Heat Stroke In Dogs:

  1. Excessive panting
  2. Difficulty breathing
  3. Increased heart rate
  4. Weakness
  5. Drooling
  6. Reddened gums
  7. Seizures
  8. Temperature higher than 104 degrees.

If your dog shows these symptoms, take him to the vet immediately.

Above all, remember that you know your dog best. Keep a close eye on him when the weather is sweltering to watch for any of the above symptoms, or simply notice when he is not himself. Provide him with plenty of cool water to drink and plenty of cool spots to rest to escape the heat. Then, together, you can enjoy the pleasures of summer to the fullest—no worries.

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