Spring has sprung and the temperature is heating up for summer! Yahoo!
Here in Austin, that means hikes to our favourite swimming holes, barbeque, and open air evening concerts!
But remember, with the summer months, can come powerful summer heat that your pup feels just as much as you do. To help you and your special pup safely enjoy the summer to the fullest, here are some pro-tips on how to help keep you and your best bud cool.
We’ve also included some alert signs to help you know if heat exhaustion is creeping up on you and your bud.
Know the Safest Times to Go Out For Exercise
Heat will be less in the early morning hours (between 3 and 7AM) and in the evening (after sunset).
Exercise in and around water if possible.
Know Your Dog’s Endurance Levels
Brachycephalic [flat/short faced] dogs like Bulldogs, Japanese Chins, Pugs tend to have a lower endurance level, due to their limited ability to intake oxygen.
Dogs with longer noses and deeper chests, like Greyhounds and Great Danes, have a better capacity for regulating heat in hotter climates.
Pups with lighter-coloured, thinner coats won’t have as much protection for their skin. Limit sun exposure for pets with light, thin coats, and/or light coloured sensitive areas like snout and ears.
How Does A Dog Regulate Heat?
Dogs do sweat! Just not in the same way people do. They sweat in a minimal amount through their paws.
“Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.” (Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD) Humane Society
Do You Need To Worry About A Panting Dog?
Not necessarily, they’re doing what is natural to keep them cool. However remember that humidity can affect the efficiency of panting, so mind the humidity levels of your surrounding climate. Keep an eye out for other signs of heat stress.
Just like us, dogs can become dehydrated, this can be very serious.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) notes that “it might seem like offering your dog a bowl of water is enough to restore her water balance, but this only applies to very mild cases of dehydration.” It is best to be proactive in adding moisture to your dog’s diet in warmer weather, and to continue keeping a watchful eye for signs of stress (AKC). See our tips below on how to know if your dog is suffering from dehydration and various ways to keep your pup hydrated!
Signs of Stress:
- heavy panting
- glazed eyes
- rapid heartbeat
- difficulty breathing
- high body temperature
- a healthy dog’s temperature will be under 104 degrees, for a fairly accurate home method of checking temp, place a medical thermometer under your pet’s armpit, then add 3 degrees to the reading.
- profuse salivation
- deep red or purple-ish tongue
If your dog experiences any, or a combination of these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian immediately.
How To Cool Down An Overheated Dog:
*If the situation is serious, take your dog to your veterinarian.
- Apply cool, not cold water to their body with wet towels instead of dousing dog in water.
- Use ice packs wrapped in a light cloth covering.
- Focus on cooling down highly vascular areas (where blood vessels are many and closer to the skin) ie: paws, belly/groin, neck, chest, armpits.
- Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes
- Take them directly to a veterinarian.
If You Suspect Your Dog Isn’t Hydrating Enough Regularly
“Like people, some dogs drink more than others, so you may need to take extra care to make sure picky drinkers get enough water” (AKC). Here are two easy methods to check your (they work for people, too) and your pup’s hydration levels.
Skin Elasticity Test:
To check for dehydration, gently pinch the skin, and pull slightly upwards.
“In well-hydrated dogs, the skin will spring back to its original position. The skin of dehydrated dogs, on the other hand, will take longer to fall back into place.”
“Test your dog’s skin when you are sure your dog is well hydrated so that you have a base for what normal skin elasticity for your dog feels like. This is especially important for owners of wrinkly breeds, such as Bulldogs or Neapolitan Mastiffs, because their wrinkly skin might be misleading” (AKC).
Capillary Response Test:
Gums are a great indicator of hydration. A healthy dog’s gums should be a happy pink, and glossy with a bit of saliva, just like yours!
Testing hydration levels with the gums, is called a Capillary Response Test (CRT), and involves pressing a finger steadily on the gums for a few seconds. when you remove your finger, the tissue turns pale to white because the blood in the tissue will have been displaced by the pressure of the finger.
A well-hydrated individual’s gums will return to that happy shade of pink almost immediately, as blood vessels (capillaries) refill. The time it takes for the capillaries to refill, is known as the Capillary Refill Time (CRT).
A normal CRT is about 1 second
If the tissue remains the lighter shade for longer, the individual may be dehydrated, or experiencing shock (AKC).
If this is the case, please follow the advice above for assessing heat stress, and see you veterinarian.
Great Strategies To Keep Your Pup Hydrated
If you suspect that your pup isn’t in the habit of drinking enough water regularly, here are some tips to help add some hydration into their diets:
- Feed Moisture-rich foods like Grocery Pup!
- Bone Broth (alone, or added to meals)
- Homemade Popsicles
- Adding small amounts of water to food
Strategies for Keeping Your Pup Cool
Homemade Popsicle Recipes. Get our free ebook to find some super tasty recipes!
Get a cooling mat. Read about these handy contraptions here.
Get a swamp-cooler jacket. Here’s an in-depth review of some popular choices.L
Limit outdoor time.Go out during the cooler hours of the day and keep to shaded areas, and stay on dirt and grass as much as possible, as asphalt can heat up, and burn paws.
Learn New Tricks.Play fun, indoor games that help reinforce good behaviour. Hide-and-go-seek is a great one to teach your clever pup. Hide and Seek!
Do fun water activities when possible!
Teach new tricks to help stimulate your pup’s thinker! Youtube is a great resource for games.
NEVER leave you pets in a car in warm weather, even if it is overcast weather.
ALWAYS provide lots of fresh, cool water.
***BONUS: Links to Strategies to keep yourself hydrated!***
Rock on and Stay Cool, Pup Fans!
Remember to share your GroceryPup-fueled adventures with us @TheGroceryPup!