Dog woes during hot weather!
Arkansas is known for its heat and humidity, especially in the summer and early fall. This year our spring was late and the heat in summer began closer to July; but boy did it come in with a bang.
Our Boaz is pretty much an inside dog, going out for walks, play and to potty. This past winter, he loved the snow and ice days and he had a wonderfully thick and beautiful coat which protected him from the cold. In fact, even in winter and in the house, he was always finding the coolest part of the house to lay down and rest. My husband, Mel, takes him out for a short walk each morning and a much longer walk each evening and Bo loves it – he gets more exercise and gets to meet people also while he’s on his walks.
Then here comes summer and with it the heat, into the low 90’s in late June and then up to 98,99 and over 100 in July for days at a time. With humidity of 70-90%, it feels awful. Dogs can become ill and even die in weather like this. In fact, during late June, on one of his walks with Mel, Boaz became disoriented and was even staggering a little, luckily Mel got him water and inside soon, along with a lukewarm soak in the tub; enough that he recovered. After that, I did some research on heat issues with dogs.
Facts about heat stroke and dogs
Signs of heat stroke:
Excess heat can harm your dog quickly (in as little as 20 minutes under the right conditions) and even cause brain damage and death. Dogs can only get rid of internal heat through panting or sweating through their paws which may not be enough to keep them from damage. Watch for these symptoms:
- Thirst which is excessive
- Heavy painting and fast heart rate
- Listlessness and no interest in food
- Excess saliva, followed by dry gums as he/she becomes more ill
- Vomiting or diarrhea with bleeding
- Anxiety and whining and barking along with restlessness
- Later symptoms can be disorientation and inability to get up, staggering.
- Finally seizures or coma and then death
If your dog begins to exhibit these symptoms, then get he/she out of the heat, give plenty of fluids and maybe even place in lukewarm bath water. If there is no improvement, contact your vet immediately.
Helpful tips to prevent heat stroke or exhaustion:
- The heat in a car, even with windows cracked can reach over 100 in just minutes. Even on a mild day of say 73 degrees, the heat can reach over 120 degrees in just minutes. So NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A LOCKED CAR. If you would be uncomfortable in that car, then do not leave your beloved pet there either. Mel and I always leave the car running now with the AC going if we need to leave Bo in our vehicle to go eat or something and check on him several times during the time we are away.
- On long walks:
- Take water
- Watch for hot sidewalks that may burn your dog’s feet
- Its best to choose shady areas to walk your dog
- Do not over exercise – when you jog, so does your dog
- Trim your dogs coat for summer weather.
- Fenced back yard
- Be sure to provide your dog with lots of fresh water. I like to put ice cubes in Boaz’s water bowl – he loves them.
- Make sure there is shade that your dog can rest under.
- Remember during the hottest part of the day, your giant is more comfortable in the house under the AC, just like you.
- Make sure your do has plenty of fresh water and don’t mussle him. He needs to be able to drink fully and pant.
- You can wet him down or let him in a pool (don’t let him drink treated pool water and rinse it off afterwards) or lake to cool him off.
- Even inside, be sure your dog is cool. You can fill bottles and zip bags with ice, wrap in a towel and let him lay down on it to cool off.
- Have your Giant groomed and give him/her a summer trim. (we’ve given Boaz two trims so far this summer – one in June and another in July.
Purchase special coverings to keep the heat off
You can also look into special coverings for your giant to help with the heat. This summer, after Bo’s experience with overheating, I did some research on Dog vests that repel the sun. I decided to order a HyperKewl Evaporative Cooling Dog Coat. Bo is 81 pounds and 10 months and I ordered a size large which fits him. It has worked out fine for Bo.
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