Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
In the summer, a hot dog is both a ballpark staple and a veterinarian’s nightmare.
Dogs — the four-legged kind — get “cooked” far more easily than people do. And that means dog lovers need to be careful to be sure their pets don’t end up in the ER with heat stroke. (
Cats, by the way, don’t tend to have heat problems generally, because they have too much sense to run around when it’s too hot.)
Since most dogs will risk their lives to go with the people they love, it’s up to pet lovers to make sure the summer heat doesn’t put their pets in deadly danger. That means knowing the signs of heat stress and reacting to a pet in danger as if it’s a life-threatening emergency — which it is.
Though humans cope with hot weather by sweating, dogs shed heat by panting, which is a very poor cooling system. In the wild, dogs seek shade during the hottest part of the day; left to their own devices, most pet dogs will, too — unless they are lured into activity by ball tossed across the yard or the rattle of a leash offering an exciting outing.
Leave your pet at home when it’s warm, never leave your dog in the car even on a mild day (heat builds up quickly), and exercise your pet in the cooler mornings or evenings. If you wonder if a street or sidewalk is too hot for your pet to walk on, place the palm of your hand on the pavement: if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s feet.
For dogs with short faces (the so-called
brachycephalic breeds), such as
Pugs, Pekinese, and mixes of these breeds, the risk is even higher. These dogs cannot breathe well even under ideal circumstances and absolutely must be kept in air-conditioned quarters during the warmer months. Older dogs, overweight or obese
dogs, and unfit dogs are also at higher risk.
A dog’s normal temperature is about 101.5, and a degree up or down is just fine. More than a couple of degrees up can be reason for concern, and it’s certainly an indication that you need to get your dog calm and cool. However, when a dog’s internal temperature reaches 105 or above, his life is in danger, and you must act immediately.
But since most people don’t carry a thermometer around, they have to rely on the signs of an overheated
dog. These include:
Don’t wait until the problem becomes dangerously obvious. Keep an eye on your pet and take action at the first sign of trouble. Offer lots of water, and if your dog likes to swim, provide access to a baby pool or larger body of water.
If you’ve missed the warnings and your dog is overheated, move your pet immediately to the shade or an air-cooled area. Use cool water — not ice-cold water or ice, which constricts blood vessels and traps heat — on your dog’s belly, concentrating on the groin. If you do have a thermometer, lubricate the tip and insert it gently into the rectum to get an accurate temperature to share with your veterinarian. Offer your pet cool water to drink but don’t force water into your dog’s mouth.
And then call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic to let someone know you are on your way.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Firefighters in Pennsylvania found two
dogs standing on the second floor of their
home a day after it burned.
Take some of the stress out of your next
veterinary visit by following Dr. Patty
Khuly's list of waiting room…
Have you been avoiding caring for your
cat or dog’s teeth? These essential tips
will help you get back on track.
We asked veterinary professionals which
human foods they give their dogs, from
carrots and apples to pizza and…
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your
lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down
more than 300 breeds for you.
No one wants his best friend to be sick in the car. Dr. Andy Roark (literally) reveals the many signs of motion…
In his home country of Thailand, the intelligent and attention-loving Korat is a living symbol of luck and prosperity.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.