heat stroke in dogsSummer’s here, and it’s time to start being conscious of the heat.  Not just in regards to ourselves, but also with our dogs. Most of us know when the heat’s getting to us, our children or our friends; do you know what to look for in your four-legged friends?

Dogs do sweat, but unlike with people, it is not their primary means of cooling down. In fact, once the temperature or heat index reaches the upper-90s to low 100s, all dogs have a much more difficult time cooling down.

VetInfo.com has an excellent summary of the signs to look for, but here are the major symptoms:

    1. Heavy panting and hyperventilation;
    2. “Belling” of the tongue; if your dog is panting heavily, his tongue will flare out into a bell-like shape at the bottom;
    3. Lethargy or confusion;
    4. Staggering gate.

As the dog’s body temperature rises:

    1. Gray or pale gums;
    2. Shallow and/or labored breathing;
    3. Vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

Some dogs are more at risk than others.  Much like people, puppies and senior dogs are more prone to heat stress.  Short-snouted breeds such as pugs or boxers also overheat very quickly, as do dogs on thyroid medications such as soloxine or thyroxine.  Both of these factors make dogs less able to regulate their body temperature, especially when it comes to keeping cool.  Finally, overweight dogs are at increased risk for heat exhaustion—one more incentive to make sure your dog maintains a proper weight.

Working at the front desk at DogBoy’s, one of the most common questions I get from clients and prospective clients is “What do you do with the dogs when it gets hot?” Typically, we turn on the air conditioning in the kennel buildings in the late morning, then bring the dogs in at mid-day for a few hours’ rest to cool off.  Dogs who are particularly intolerant of the heat will spend much more time indoors, either in our kennel buildings or in the front office—where they’ll still get lots of people time and spoiling.

For the dogs that do get to spend more time outdoors, our hard-working kennel staff refreshes the water buckets and baby pools at noon so there’s lots of nice cold water to play in and drink. And as long as our pond has water that is safe to swim in, our best behaved and water-loving dogs will be able to have a dip as well during our pond hikes.

As always, we are happy to accommodate your dog’s special needs—heat-related or otherwise. And don’t forget: summer fills up fast, even on non-holiday weekends, so if you haven’t reserved a spot for your dog during your summer vacation, give us a call or email!

written by Jay Robison