We’re getting into the hottest part of the summer—the “dog days”—and the question I get more than any other at this time of year working the front desk is: “What do you do when it gets so hot to prevent heat stress in the dogs?” That’s a good question, especially since we’ve already seen the thermometer hit 108 this year and we’re barely into July. Dog safety is a big concern for us on the Ranch, because these are your best friends we’re caring for!
So what do we do to prevent heat stress in the dogs we care for? We do quite a few things! First, both of our boarding areas are air-conditioned, as are our office and training facility. This ensures that when your dogs are inside, they are resting comfortably and have a place to cool down. Outside is where we have to keep a sharp eye on your pup’s safety. Depending on the day and how quickly things heat up, we generally bring the dogs in starting at around 11 am for a two to three hour rest to cool off. After that, they come back out for an afternoon potty break and a chance to run around a little more until they either go back up for the night or get picked up if they are here for day care. While the dogs are resting, our tireless kennel staff makes sure all the buckets and pools in our playgroups are filled with fresh, cool water. When the weather is nice, more time is spent outdoors. When it’s in the 90’s and 100’s, we’re doing a lot more rotation of dogs in and out of playgroups and rest time. Focusing on dog safety means that we are watching each and every dog for signs that spell trouble.
We take heat stress in dogs and people very seriously and keep a close eye on all dogs in the heat. At a recent all-staff meeting we reviewed the signs of heat stress in dogs to make sure we know the signs when a dog is not doing well in the heat of the day. Normal body temperature for dogs is between 100 and 102.5 degrees, and they don’t cool themselves off nearly as efficiently as we do. As the temperature and heat index climb into the high 90s and triple digits, the risk for heat stress greatly increases for all dogs.
The following are signs we look for, and that you can look for too for your dog’s safety:
- Heavy panting
- “Belling” of the tongue (the bottom of the tongue flares out into a bell-like shape)
As heat stress advances into heat stroke, you may see:
- Gray or dark red gums
- Thick, viscous saliva
- Dizziness or disorientation
- Laying down and not getting up
- Collapsing into unconsciousness
Some dogs tolerate the heat less well than others. Senior dogs and puppies, dogs on thyroid medication, and short-snouted dogs like bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese, and Boston terriers (among others) are at special risk for heat stress, and we keep an especially close eye on them. These dogs often spend extra time relaxing in the air conditioning during summer months. Our goal is to prevent heat stress altogether and we will bring a dog in at the first sign that they are not tolerating the temperature well.
As always, your dog’s safety and comfort are our top priorities. Rest assured that we are keeping a close eye on everyone this time of year so you can leave your dog here with no worries. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please call the front desk at (512) 251-7600. We will be happy to answer your questions or connect you with someone at DogBoy’s who can assist you further. Have a safe and happy summer!
Blog Post by Jay Robison, DogBoy’s Receptionist
Photo of Strider, by his owner & DogBoy’s Office Coordinator, Jana McSwain