Cool Tips for Hot Dogs
There's a heat advisory in effect for much of the DMV area. With the heat index well above 100 degrees, it's more important than ever to keep your dog cool. We've put together some tips and tricks on preventing and treating heat exhaustion in dogs.
The risk of heat exhaustion is especially high for brachycephalic breeds (or as we call them, squish-faces) like bulldogs, Boston terriers, and pugs. Why? Because while dogs do sweat a little bit, primarily from their paws, their primary way of cooling themselves is by panting. Just as we cool down when sweat evaporates from our skin, they cool down as water evaporates from their tongues, sinuses, and lungs. The problem for squish-faces is that they already have quite a lot of soft tissue squeezed into very little nose and mouth space. Their breathing isn't as efficient, and neither is their cooling ability!
Regardless of breed or nose length, hot days like these can be dangerous for your bestie. We've compiled some veterinary tips on how to spot heat stress in pets so that you can take action before it becomes a serious problem!
Signs of Heat Exhaustion:
- Excessive panting
- Glassy eyes
- Imbalance or wobbliness
- Dehydration (American Kennel Club has an easy test for this: "Press your finger against your dog's gums until they turn white, then remove it. If the gums don’t regain color immediately, your dog could be dehydrated.")
- Limit walks and activities during the hottest part of the day.
- Keep fresh, cool water on hand.
- Stick to the shade, where temperatures can be significantly cooler.
- Use a wet towel or bandana to keep your pet cool, or wet your dog down with room-temperature water before exercise. Daisy is modeling this one in the photo above, which works well for her.
- Offer ice cubes as a crunchy treat.
What to do to Treat Heat Stress: (Ideally you'll catch heat stress before it turns to heat exhaustion. Cases of heat exhaustion should be treated by a veterinarian. Please note this is the advice we've received from our vets, but you should always consult your own vet on any health issues):
- DO get your dog out of the heat quickly.
- DO allow your pup to lie down on a cool surface like a tile floor or wet towel.
- DO help your dog cool down by placing wet towels on his or her neck, paws, groin, and armpits.
- DO apply rubbing alcohol to your dog's ears and paws, which can also help conduct heat away from his or her body.
- DO NOT force your dog to drink—he or she may not be able to, especially if he or she is panting very hard. But be sure to have cool, fresh water on hand for when your dog is able to drink, since he or she is likely dehydrated.
- DO NOT douse your dog with cold water, or rub ice on him or her. It might seem like a quick way to reduce your pup's temperature, but it can shock his or her system and constrict his or her blood vessels, which will actually increase the time it takes to cool your pup down.
- DO NOT over cool your dog—remember, dogs run at higher temperatures than we do. Once your dog is stable, be sure to call the vet!
We'd love to hear how you keep your pups cool and safe in this weather! Please let us know in the comments—you'll be providing tips for other dog lovers!