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June 30, 2016 6 Comments
Summer is approaching and we are all looking forward to getting our dogs outside , but it's important to remember that dogs don't do as well in hot weather as people do.
Be aware that not all dogs handle heat in the same way. Dogs build up heat as a function of volume and lose it as a function of surface area. This means that larger dogs with rounder bodies have less surface area for their size, and build up heat faster. In addition, dogs lose heat through evaporation from their nasal passages and tongue. This means that dogs with flat faces are less able to lose heat. As a rule, the bigger the dog and the flatter the face, the more prone they are to overheating. Overweight and older dogs have an even greater risk, as do dogs with thick fur.
Fur coats can be hot. Fur provides some amount of protection from the sun, but thick fur prevents body heat from escaping and promotes overheating. It's a myth that shaving a dog's coat makes him hotter. Shaving it to the skin can make him vulnerable to sunburn, but cutting the fur to about one inch can help him stay cooler. If you don't want to shave him, brush as much undercoat as you can out, and be sure no solid mats are there to trap heat and moisture.
Don't exercise your dog when it's warm. Be careful with outdoor exercise, particularly running and jogging at your pace. Signs to note are rapid breathing, red gums, thick, profuse saliva. These are symptoms of full blown heat stroke, and you must act fast to save his life. (see below) Unfortunately, veterinarians see far too many dogs in this situation every year, many of which succumb.The dog car thermometer was invented by a vet to help people understand just how hot their cars can become and to NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG IN THE CAR in summer. Studies show that the temperature inside cars can heat to lethal temperatures within 30 minutes even if the weather outside is relatively cool. Regardless of outside air temperature, cars heat up at a similar rate - gaining 80 percent of their final temperature within 30 minutes. Cars that start at a comfortable 72 degrees F (22 degrees C), for example, soar to a deadly 117 degrees F (47 degrees C) after 60 minutes in the sun. Cracking the windows scarcely affects the temperature inside. Dogs overheat before people do, so even though you may be just a little warm, your dog can be lethally overheated. On warm days, exercise your dog first thing in the morning, late at night, or only where he can cool off in water. Asphalt can be very hot and hurt their paws.
Be prepared for travel emergencies. You're driving with your dog on a hot day, enjoying the air conditioning. Suddenly the car dies. As you wait for help, the temperature is rising, and your dog is starting to get overheated. If you have water, offer some to him, and pour some over him. Next time, prepare by bringing a cooler with ice and a small car-battery-powered fan. Soak your dog and a towel in ice water, have him sit on the towel, and aim the fan at him. Air blowing over your dog's wet skin and fur cools him just as your sweat in a breeze cools you. Keep a gulpy and a dog cooling pad in the car to keep him cool and hydrated.
Provide for comfort at home. You left your dog in the yard, but the day turned out hotter than you expected. Next time, provide for your dog's comfort before you leave. Be sure he has a place that's shady all day long. Buy a kiddy pool and fill it with water so he can soak in it and cool off. If possible, aim a fan at him from a sheltered place so he has a breeze. If your dog is left inside, you may need to run the air conditioning, or at least a fan. If the weather is very hot, you may need to find a way to guard against electrical outages while you're away. Some pets have died when the electricity, and thus air conditioning, unexpectedly went off during the day. A cooling pad will definitely help keep him cool.
Not All Dogs Can Swim! Although swimming is a great exercise in warm weather, make sure your dog can swim first! Certain breeds such as: bulldogs, French bulldogs and Pekingese, can't swim. And even good swimmers can drown in backyard pools if they don't know where the steps are to climb out.
How to Care For an Overheated Dog Don't plunge an overheated dog into ice water. This causes the peripheral blood vessels to contract, actually trapping the overheated blood at the body's core -- just where it does most harm. Instead, cool the dog slowly by placing him in cool water, or by draping him with wet towels and aiming a fan at him. Offer him plenty of cool water. If you have a thermometer, cool him until his temperature reaches 103 degrees F (39 degrees C), then stop, as it will continue to decline. As soon as you have him cooling, race him to the veterinarian. Even if he appears to have recovered, he needs to go to the veterinarian because some delayed but deadly effects can still occur even days later.
Dogs and UV Rays. Dogs, especially light-skinned dogs, can get sunburn and melanoma. If you dog likes to sun worship, rub a sunblock on his belly and the top of his nose, the most common sites for sunburn.
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