By​ ​Courtney​ ​Emken
co-written​ ​by​ ​​Bart Emken, CPDT-KA, Jen​ ​Larson,​ ​KPA-CTP, and Amanda Ott.

It’s that time of year again! The temperature is soaring as the sun bears down on Austin, Texas. Despite the heat, many people want to take their dog outdoors for some quality exercise like hiking, walking, or running. Here’s how you can stay safe in the summer heat together!

Knowing The Warning Signs Of Heatstroke And Heat Exhaustion

Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of canine heat exhaustion/stroke. Quick recognition and reaction can be the difference between simple overheating and a full blown heat stroke. Watch for these tell-tale signs:

If you detect these signs, you must immediately decrease your dog’s body temperature. Get them out of the sun and into the shade, then start to help them cool down with water as soon as you can. If these symptoms are accompanied by:

  • Vomiting
  • Stumbling
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness

You need to drop everything and get your dog to the emergency vet. Heatstroke is a quick killer, and you have no time to lose. Remember that your dog won’t know what’s happening to them- it’s up to you to recognize the signs and take the proper actions.

Just giving your dog some water will not be enough to cool them down. On the other hand, dousing or submerging your dog in water can drop their temperature too quickly, causing system shock. You need to carefully and gradually cool your dog’s body.

Start by applying cold water to certain areas of your dog where they naturally cool themselves, such as:

  • Their groin
  • Beneath their front legs
  • Their foot pads
  • Behind their ears

If you have friends nearby, have them fan your dog while you wet them down, or do it yourself after you’ve given them plenty of water.

Keep your dog off the pavement as well. Asphalt and concrete become scorching hot in the summer. Sidewalks will burn your dog’s paw pads while simultaneously heating their body. Always test the ground before you let your dog walk across it. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.

We also know there’s lots of festivals this time of year, and it’s tempting to bring your dog along with you. However, it’s better to leave them at home. Festivals are both overwhelming and overheating for dogs, with little protection from the sun and the hot pavement, not to mention the stress of being around all those people!

Preventing Heat Exhaustion And Avoiding Overexposure

The first step to prevention is ensuring that your dog has constant access to water.This includes while out on walks, hikes, or runs. Take frequent breaks to let the dog (and you!) cool off and drink water. Bring a bowl with you as well; dogs have a difficult time drinking from bottles. You can buy packable bowls online and at pet stores.

Watch your dog’s body language and behavior. Look for the more serious signs we mentioned above, and keep an eye out for more subtle hints that your dog is too hot, like:

  • Panting more than usual
  • Frequently laying down/resting
  • Rapid or increased heart beat

If you notice any of these, take things more slowly and don’t push your dog further than what they’re comfortable with.

Ask yourself whether your dog is properly acclimated to the heat. If you regularly go for five mile runs with your dog after work, their tolerance may be quite high. However, many dogs are used to the AC and just can’t handle too much heat and exertion.

Some breeds are naturally more capable of handling the heat, especially breeds that are native to arid climates, like:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Afghan Hounds
  • Australian Shepherds

While these breeds handle high temperatures better than most, they can still easily overheat if not supervised responsibly. On the opposite side, tons of dogs have a particularly tough time beating the heat, including:

All of these dogs have trouble regulating their body temperature. Puppies also just don’t know when to stop playing, and can work themselves to exhaustion if unsupervised. Give these dogs extra attention and care if they have to go outside during the heat, and try to avoid walks in the heat of the day. Aim for the evenings and mornings to reduce the risks.

Many people don’t know this, but dogs drink more like elephants than like humans. They actually scoop water out with their tongue instead of slurping it up like us. Lots of owners like to give their dog a “drink” from the hose, watch why this is ineffective:

PSA: DON’T give your dog any alcohol- PERIOD. Most people know this, but we’ve seen it too many times not to mention it. Alcohol is toxic to your dog, and a sip of beer won’t help your dog cool down one bit. No gatorade either, they don’t need electrolytes the way humans do.

If you have any questions about how to beat the heat this summer, or want to know more about how we handle hot days on the Ranch, please contact us today. We hope everyone (dogs included, of course) has a wonderful and safe summer!

Image Permissions

Dog & Stick by Rolf Zogg

Dog on Pavement by dsgk

Dog Lake by

Time Warp by Discovery