Heat Warning For Dogs

Click here for downloadable and printable PDF of the chart below.

This article discusses 1) Dogs & Heat, 2) How To Prevent Heat Issues 3) Symptoms of  Hyperthermia  & Heat Stroke 4) What to do if you have a dog with hyperthermia/heat stroke

Sure, it might be obvious to you to be careful with your dog when it is hot outside. Yet it is not so obvious to everyone; every year many dogs suffer, and some die because their owners aren’t Heat Aware. When we say Suffer we don’t mean being 'uncomfortable', we mean organ failure and irreparable damage.  And it can happen quickly. So please don’t assume your neighbor, your relative or your co-worker intuitively ‘know’ the things in this article; please spread the word.

Dogs and Heat
So what's the big deal about dogs and heat?

Dogs don’t sweat like humans do; so they get hotter faster that we do, and that can lead to big problems. Dogs only respire through their tongue (and little bit through their paws), so they don't get rid of heat as fast as we do. As a dog gets hotter, its tongue hangs out more, so that air can pass over it, and that air cools the blood that goes to its heart and brain (and everywhere else too). Humans get to use their entire skin surface to cool them – via sweating. So while it might not be ‘that hot’ to you, it is much hotter to your dog. And more life-threatening; damage can occur quickly. And since dogs aren’t big on complaining (like humans are) they aren’t going to tell you about it.

Short snouted dogs (brachycephalic) have less tongue and nose to act as an air conditioner – so they are even more susceptible to heat issues. Yet hot is hot, short snout or not.

Worse still, your dog might have other issues that can exacerbate heat issues for them, ranging from laryngeal paralysis to heart issues.

Body Temperature
The fancy name for high body temperature is Hyperthermia. Dogs usually have a temp of about 100-102 °F/37.5-39 °C. If your dog has a temperature of over 103 °F/39.4 °C, that's  not normal, that's Hyperthermia. At 106 °F/41 °C it is called Heat Stroke. Whatever it's called, it is Bad for your dog. 

Prevention Is The Cure
-Keep your dog cool on hot days. Don’t let them sit in the sun. Make sure that wherever they are is well ventilated.
-*Don’t leave your dog in your car. Period. See the information below; print it for people who don’t know. And No, an ‘open window’ doesn’t help – there's no air flow inside the car to help the dog cool down.
-*Walking on a hot surface, even with its ‘tough’ paw pads, is a bad idea. See the information below.
-Avoid excessive exercise; err on the side of caution. If you must take a walk or a hike, do it at the coolest part of the day, usually first thing in the morning or after the sun has set. Or not at all.
-Like with humans, be extra careful with extremely young and extremely old dogs – they are at greater risk.
-This holds the same with thicker coated dogs, short snouted dogs, and dogs that have medical issues. Make sure your dog has plenty of cool water available to it, all the time. You can put some ice cubes in  the water to help keep it cool.
-A baby pool with some cool water can be a great thing. Watch your dog - all dog's don't know how to swim, nor do all dogs like the water.
-If you don't have air conditioning in your house, there is a likelihood you have it in your car. And even though we are advocates of minimizing your dog's time in a car, this might be the time to break that rule and take a drive with your dog. Or at least both of you cool off in your driveway

Dogs And Hot Cars:
Unless you have the a/c on high, NEVER LEAVE YOUR PETS IN A VEHICLE WHEN IT IS HOT OUTSIDE. Ever. Vehicles are glass & metal hothouses. When it gets above 50 °F/10 °C the inside of a vehicle starts to get very hot. Temperatures 65 °F /18 °C and above turn the inside of a car into a furnace. Even with the windows open.

The best solution is to leave your dog at home. Or to take it out of the vehicle, and to wherever you are going. 

The Ice-Cream Rule: If you wouldn't leave your ice cream in your car, don't leave your dog in your car. 
Windows Down Rule: if you feel like you should leave the car windows down, it is probably too hot to leave your dog in the car.

If you are in a situation where you have to have your dog with you in your car e.g. you are traveling: a) Leave the air conditioning on if your pets are in the car and you are not. If you need an extra key to do so, then get one; the money spent on the key is less than a visit to the vet. Or your Best Friend's discomfort or death. b) Park in a shaded area. c) Cut thick foam-core or flat insulation foam into window inserts for all your windows, and use them. This will keep the sun out and the cold in. d) Check your car frequently - sometimes the a/c can fail or you can run out of gas, etc. e) Put a notice on your dashboard that says the a/c is on, with your cell phone number. 

If you have to drive with your dog, have fresh water and a bowl with you. 

Click here for downloadable and printable PDF of the chart below.

Dogs And Hot Asphalt:
If the sidewalk or street is hot to your hand, it is going to be hot to your dogs feet. Don't let them walk on it. A dog's paws are not 'tough' when it comes to heat - they are sensitive. 

If it feels 'hot enough to fry an egg' on the street, it probably is. When the air temperature is 86 °F/ 30 °C, asphalt can reach 135 °F/57 °C; that's hot enough to cook an egg in five minutes. And it will do the same to your dog's sensitive foot pads.

Just one more degree in the air can equal 5 more degrees on the street: On an 87 °F/30.5 °C day, asphalt temperatures can reach 140 °F/60 °C degrees, hot enough to cause burns, permanent damage and scarring after just one minute of contact.

Rapid burns and blistering can occur at 150 °F/ 65.6 °C. Hot sidewalks, pavement and parking lots burn paws and also reflect heat onto our dogs’ bodies, increasing their risk of deadly heatstroke.

Symptoms of Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke

Panting Blood-clotting disorders
Dehydration Blood in their poo
Excessive drooling Black, tarry poo
Increased body temperature - above 103 °F /39 °C Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding
Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body Generalized inflammatory response syndrome
little or no urine The breakdown of red-muscle tissue
Sudden kidney failure Changes in mental status
Rapid heart rate Seizures
Irregular heart beats Muscle tremors
Shock Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken walking or general movement
The heart and breathing stop Unconsciousness, your dog cannot be woke up
Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress  

Two quick tests for dehydration are 1) push in on their gum tissue with your finger, it should spring back to the original color immediately. If the tissue stays white, it's a sign of dehydration. 2) Gently pinch some of their skin together - like on the back of their paw  - if it is normal it springs right back, if it takes its time to go back to normal, that is a sign of dehydration. Check this on your dog now, so you can see what  'normal' looks like.

What To Do If Your Dog Has Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke
If it is hot, keep a sharp eye on your dog. Early recognition of symptoms can help for a quicker recovery. If you see something, do something and get your dog to the vet right away.

The first step is to lower the dog’s body temperature…but not too fast (that can create other issues).

You don’t want to use Cold or Freezing things because they can actually harm your dog. You DOG want to use COOL things. So spraying your dog with cool,  but not cold, water or putting it in a cool bath are good ideas. You can also wrap your dog in dog in cool wet towels. Or use a fan to cool the dog off. Or use isopropyl alcohol or cool water on your dog’s foot pads, groin, and in their ‘underarms'.

If you can get then to drink, let it be cool water, not icy. 

Once again: Frreezing Cold is not good. Cool and Gradual are the keys to getting your dog's temperature back in line. Stop these procedures once your dog gets to about 103 °F/ 39.4 °C because you don't want to bring your dog's temperature lower than it should be either. Get your dog to the Vet for a check up right away.