Summer heat and your dog or puppy

The “dog days” of summer are almost here. Before long, the days will be brighter, longer and much hotter. Most people run for the air-conditioned comfort of the indoors; however, you dog may not have that option. Excessive heat can cause dog health problems and can even be fatal. Several dog illnesses are directly related to heat exposure.

Heatstroke is a serious and sometimes fatal result of prolonged exposure to heat. During the early stages of heat stroke, your dog will probably exhibit heavy panting and rapid breathing accompanied by excessive drooling. Look for bright red gums and tongue in addition to the dog’s inability to maintain balance. If left untreated, heat stroke will cause your dogs gums to turn white or blue and he will become lethargic. He may have uncontrollable urination or defecation and labored, noisy breathing before going into shock. If you notice signs of heat stroke, apply ice packs to the dog’s groin area, give him ice chips and apply rubbing alcohol to his paws while getting him to the vet immediately. Pedialyte is an excellent way to help restore electrolytes while you are trying to cool him down.

In order to prevent your dog or puppy from having heat stroke during the hot summer months, you should:
• Provide a shady place for the dog to rest. Do not assume that a doghouse is sufficient for shade. Doghouses can actually trap and hold heat making it an undesirable location for the dog to rest and cool down during the hottest part of the day.

• Always provide a source for cool, fresh water. Refill water bowls every day and make sure that there is more than one source of water in case one of the sources tips over or is otherwise spilled or contaminated.

• Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day or on days when temperatures are above normal. Take walks late in the evening or early in the morning before the day heats up.

• Never leave your dog locked in a vehicle on a hot day. In fact, it is dangerous to leave your dog in a locked vehicle on a cool day because temperatures can quickly rise in a vehicle even on a cool or cloudy day.

Summer is wonderful for spending quality time with your dog – just make sure that you give him the same care when it comes to the heat as you do yourself.