As we head into summer, it is important to make sure your dog stays cool. Heat stroke can occur after only 5 minutes of exposure to hot temperatures and can be fatal. Here are some ideas for keeping cool in the heat:
- Take your dog swimming. Two options for off leash dog swimming in the area are Shirlington Dog Park in Arlington, Va., and Downs Memorial Dog Park Beach in Pasadena, Md.
- Buy a kiddie pool for your patio or backyard. Even if you have a small patio, your dog will love splashing around in a kiddie pool.
- Make doggie “popsicles.” Freeze chicken or beef broth in an ice cube tray and give them to your dog as a cool treat.
Signs of Heat Stroke
Limit your dog’s outdoor time during peak sun and never leave him in a hot car. If you are worried about them being bored, add some training or stimulating toys to make up for the shorter walks in summer. Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, difficulty breathing, bright red gums and unsteadiness.
If you see these symptoms, try to immediately cool your dog by placing her in a tub of cool water (not freezing) or using a cold cloth to cool her feet and groin area. If symptoms persist, go to the vet right away.
Summers in DC can be brutal for everyone. Make sure your dog is comfortable and happy this summer!
From Tori Tyree.
This column originally ran May 26, 2011.
It’s almost summertime in D.C. It’s time for barbeques, trips to the beach, and street festivals and many people love to bring their dogs along on their adventures. But, please be aware that there could be some serious summertime dangers for your dog if you aren’t careful!
My biggest pet peeve is seeing dogs out during the hottest part of the day, walking around on hot asphalt or sitting tied up to a café fence. Meanwhile, the owners are eating and drinking with their friends — and not paying attention to the fact that the dog is showing signs of distress.
And believe me, I’ve had a number of conversations with people that really just didn’t know how dangerous it is for a dog to be out in the sun all day — even with water bottles and shade provided!
If dogs cannot expel enough of this heat, their internal body temperature starts to rise. Once the temperature reaches 106 degrees, internal organs start to fail in what is usually an irreversible shutdown of the body.
Short nosed dogs such as Pugs and Bulldogs are the most susceptible to heat stroke since their noses are not long enough to actually cool the air they breathe in. If the temperature is 90 degrees or above, these breeds should be limited to five minutes outside.
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
The following signs may indicate heat stroke in a dog:
- vigorous panting
- dark red gums
- dry mucus membranes
- thick saliva
- laying down (or unwilling) to get up
- increased temperature (104 degrees requires action, 106 is a dire emergency)
Heat Stroke: What to Do
If you suspect Heat Stroke, here is what you need to do for your dog:
- Move your dog out of the heat immediately.
- Cool your dog by placing cool wet rags on her body, especially around the pads of feet and head.
- Do not use ice or very cold water. This can actually cause the blood vessels to constrict and further raise the body temperature.
- Stop cooling the body at 103 degrees. Over-cooling can cause another host of problems!
- Offer cool water, but do not force your dog to drink.
- Visit the vet right away. Even if you don’t see any problems, internal organs may be stressed and the animal needs to be checked out.
Luckily, there are a lot of daylight hours in the summer so you can enjoy time outdoors with your pup in the mornings and evenings. Use common sense, know the warning signs, and trust me — your dog is probably happier to skip that festival and lounge on your couch in the air conditioner anyway!
This post from Tori Tyree originally ran on May 26. She has some important advice for how to take care of your dog during these hot summer days: Summer in the City: Protect Your Dog From Heat Stroke.