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As summer approaches, we all look forward to spending time outside with our beloved pups. Although playing outside is fun, it is important to keep an eye out for signs of heat exhaustion in your four-legged friend. This article will give tips on ways to keep a dog cool outside.
When our dogs are happy or excited they can be overeager to walk and play even in hot weather. It is up to you to keep them cool and draw the line when you think they’ve had enough.
Before spending time under the hot summer sun, make sure you know how to keep a dog cool outside, how to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion, and how to cool down a dog that is overheating.
How Dogs Regulate Their Temperature
To regulate body temperature, humans sweat through the skin. For dogs, it is very different.
While dogs do have sweat glands in their paws and ear canals, they don’t have any in their skin. Instead, their coats help keep them comfortable no matter the air temperature.
Additionally, they can control their body heat using a panting mechanism, controlled mostly by the way they breathe.
When it’s cold, dogs will want to store their body heat. In that situation, they will inhale and exhale through their nose.
On the other hand, when it’s hot outside, or they’ve expended too much energy, they inhale through their nose and exhale through their mouths. When they do this, they pick up moisture through their noses and get that moisture to absorb the excess heat inside their body. Then, they exhale that moisture through their mouths.
Remember that panting doesn’t always mean they’re uncomfortable. It’s just a natural way for them to regulate their body heat.
Nevertheless, it’s something to watch closely, especially when it starts to get heavy and it’s accompanied by other symptoms.
Tips For Keeping Your Dog Cool Outside In The Summer
Whether you’re going out for a long walk, going to a dog park, or simply spending time in your yard, it’s essential to know how to keep your dog cool outside to avoid the dangers of heat exhaustion.
How to keep a dog cool outside your home:
- Keep them out of direct sunlight. Make sure your dog has access to a shady spot where they can rest comfortably.
- Make sure your dog always has access to drinking water. In sweltering heat, add ice cubes to their water bowls. This gets them to drink more, and it cools them down quickly.
- Prepare some homemade frozen treats. Simply freezing some chicken stock or carrot juice can do wonders for keeping them from overheating. Be wary of giving your dog ice cream because some of the ingredients could be harmful to your pooch.
- Give your dog something cold to lay on. You can use an ice pack, a cooling pad, or simply a wet towel. You can also try collars that have removable ice packs to help keep them cool.
- Set up a wading pool. Whether you get one that’s made specifically for dogs or a non-inflatable kiddie pool, you can be sure that your dog can keep cool while having fun in the process.
How to keep a dog cool outside when walking, playing, or exercising:
- Schedule activities properly. Avoid going out to play or exercise at the peak of the day when the sun is hottest. Instead, go out early in the morning or during the evening when it’s cooler.
- Avoid hot pavements. Even when the sun is no longer at its peak, the pavement could still be too hot. Your dog is unlikely to complain of a hot sidewalk when they’re out for a walk or taking a trip to a nearby park. It’ll be up to you to check and make sure they don’t risk burning their paws. If your pup will tolerate it, get them to wear booties to protect their paws when it is impossible to avoid walking on hot pavement.
- Always have water handy. It’s most convenient to bring around a bottle of water and a collapsible bowl. Every few minutes lay down a bowl of water and get your pup to drink.
- Pour cold water over your dog’s back. Sometimes, the combination of heat and exertion can get dogs to overheat. Pouring water over their nape and back could help them keep their body temperature down.
How To Tell If Your Dog Is Overheating
Heat tolerance varies between individual dogs. Generally, dog exhaustion symptoms start to manifest when the air temperature reaches 81° to 85° F. Combined with physical exertion, these temperatures could easily lead to overheating.
Here are signs that your dog is overheating:
- Rapid breathing
- Heavy panting
- Excessive or thick salivation
- Staggering or moving as if exhausted
In even more severe cases, you’ll observe the following dog exhaustion symptoms:
- Eyes look glazed over / unable to focus
- Dark or very red tongue and gums
- Muscle tremors
- Rectal temperature of over 101.5° F
How To Cool Down A Dog That Is Already Overheating
If your dog is already showing signs of heat exhaustion, go through the following steps:
- Get your dog in front of a fan for ventilation.
- Submerge a towel in cool water and wring it out so that it’s not dripping wet. Use that towel to wipe your dog’s underarms, groin, and belly. After that, you can also wrap them in the towel.
- In severe cases, check your dog’s temperature every 5 minutes. When their temperature gets below 103°F, you can set aside the wet towel and let them rest in a shaded, and properly ventilated space.
- Make cold water easily accessible. You don’t need to force your dog to drink. Just make sure they know it’s there so they can have some whenever they want.
When you notice signs of heat exhaustion, don’t panic. Don’t do anything drastic like submerging your dog in an ice bath. That might cool them down too quickly and cause them to go into shock.
Follow the steps above and keep a close watch. When your pup is stable, bring them to your vet for proper evaluation if needed.
Heat exhaustion is a serious concern with dogs because they are unlikely to self-regulate their temperature. If your dog is playing or on a nice walk, they probably won’t recognize when they need to cool off.
That’s why, especially in the summer months, you need to make an effort to keep your dog cool outside. Also, always keep a close eye for dog exhaustion symptoms so you can keep their condition from escalating to a life-threatening issue.