Summer Heat Smarts
Monday, Jun 01,2020

We’re fast approaching the higher double digits, and in some areas, the lower triple digits, of summer, which means dog owners need to step up safety factors for their dogs’ continued well-being.


Hydration Is Key

During hot summer months, dogs must have easy access to plenty of fresh, clean water. You can use an ice cube or two in a bowl, but don’t over-chill the water.


Bloat Is a Real Danger

You want your pup to get enough water to stay hydrated in hot weather, but drinking too much water, too fast, can lead to acute gastric dilation-volvulus. Also known as bloat or twisted stomach, acute gastric dilation-volvulus is a life-threatening condition most commonly diagnosed in large-breed dogs with deep “barrel” chests, such as German shepherd dogs, great Danes, St. Bernards, Labrador retrievers and others.

In cases of bloat, time is of the essence to save your dog’s life. Swift attention by your vet is the only remedy—the more time that passes after the onset, the lower the chances of your dog surviving. Symptoms include heavy salivation, usually within a couple hours after eating; heavy panting or shortness of breath within hours of eating or drinking excessively; a swollen or hard upper belly; attempts to vomit but nothing coming up; lethargy and weakness. For more information about recognizing bloat, click here.

Causes include drinking excessively before or after exercising, exercising within an hour before or after eating, gulping excessive air while eating too rapidly, and stress or anxiety with or without the onset of heavy panting.

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your veterinary clinic immediately, let them know that you suspect bloat and tell them you’re bringing in your dog for an examination so they are prepared to aid your dog quickly

It’s OK to Be Shady

Shield your pup from the sun while she’s in the backyard or, simply, keep her indoors. Be careful not to over-exercise her, and look for shady spots to rest while on a walk. A dog’s natural behavior is to walk a bit, stop and sniff, walk a bit more, stop a bit more, so don’t insist that your dog keep up a brisk pace on hot days.

Beware of Hot Pavement

If the concrete/asphalt is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog! Blacktop can cause severe burns on soft pads, so be acutely aware of the heat factor coming up from the pavement. Prevent her sensitive paw pads from burning by keeping her off hot surfaces. Walk in the early morning or late afternoon hours, after things have cooled a bit.  

Do We Need to Say It?

Never, ever leave your dog alone in a parked vehicle. Ever! It can lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal. Leaving a dog unattended in a hot car is illegal in most states.

Pools Are Cool

Who doesn’t love to cool off in the pool on a hot day? Lots of dogs love plastic kiddie pools (especially when paired with a shade overhead) filled with tap water, as well as big-dog pools, too. However, always supervise your pup around in-ground or above-ground pools, don’t let them drink chlorinated pool water, and rinse chlorine, salt and other chemicals from her fur when it’s time to dry off.

Could You Recognize Heat Stroke in your Dog?

  • Mild weakness
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive panting
  • Seizure
  • Bloody diarrhea, vomit
  • Body temperature of more than 104 degrees

Know What to Do in the Event of Heat Stroke

Courtesy of the American Red Cross; click here for more information.

  1. Get your dog out of direct heat.
  2. Check for shock. Signs include all of the symptoms listed above.
  3. Take your dog’s temperature.
  4. Spray your dog with cool water; then retake her temperature.
  5. Place water-soaked towels on the dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen, turn on a fan and point it in your dog’s direction, rub isopropyl alcohol (70%) on your dog’s foot pads to help cool her, but don’t use large quantities.
  6. Take your dog to the nearest veterinary hospital.

Summer can be a wonderfully fun time for you and your canine companion as long as you keep these safety tips front-of-mind at all times.