The summer months can be uncomfortable and possibly dangerous for both pets and people. While it’s fun to be out in the sun forgetting the winter blues, rising temperatures and humidity don’t just make things sticky, they can lead to tragic results for your dog.
As this summer warms up, there are plenty of ways to keep your dog cool.
Here are some tips and insights to help with summer heat safety for your dog.
How hot a car gets in the summer and how quickly
It’s fun to take your dog on the road in the summer, and few things are as enjoyable as watching them enjoy the wind on their face. But when you make a stop, but even a few minutes alone in the car on a hot day can be fatal.
It’s not uncommon for people to crack their car windows a bit and run into a coffee shop or store. But the danger starts as soon as you walk away.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, a car on a warm day with the windows cracked can reach 85º F degrees in ten minutes, and 102º F in 20 minutes. After 30 minutes, the inside temperature is at least 120º F degrees which is more than enough to kill any pet or child.
Note that puppies and short-muzzled dogs like Boxers, senior dogs, dogs with heart, lung or airway disease are much more susceptible.
Leaving your dog at home in the heat
It’s become common knowledge that leaving a dog in a hot car is dangerous, but few people think about how hot their home can get during the summer.
When you leave your dog at home in the summer, it’s ideal to keep them indoors, away from direct sunlight, if possible. Direct sunlight is one of the biggest dangers to dogs in the summers, so make sure they have a cool place to lay and plenty of fresh water. If you don’t have air conditioning, your home can probably get quite hot. Create as much airflow as possible in the shady spot you create for your dog by opening windows or placing fans to circulate air.
Even if you have air conditioning, be prepared for summer power outages. Make sure your dog has a cool place to go to and access to water. If the power goes out, try to get home quickly to check in on your dog.
If you have to leave your dog outside, make sure they have ample shade and cool water. Ensure the water bowl is full and can’t be accidentally spilled. Make sure the shady spot remains shady throughout the day as the sun moves. Remember, direct sun is the biggest danger. Don’t rely on a dog house for shade, as they restrict air flow, which can make it even hotter. You should also make sure you have a system to check in on your dog regularly – whether that’s a web cam, stopping home or having a neighbor check in.
It should be noted that all pets are in danger if precautions are not in place. Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Cats and other small animals are susceptible to heat stroke. Even if doesn’t feel that hot to us, they can be miserable all day while waiting for us to return to our car or home.
Don’t underestimate the heat
Regardless of its trouble in the car or at home, heat is the leading weather-related killer for both pets and people. Beyond the danger of the direct heat is the risk associated in regions that have high humidity, as that makes it difficult for the body to regulate itself.
Regulating body temperature is particularly difficult for dogs, who do not perspire the way humans do: Their sweat glands are on the pads of their feet. Dogs pant to cool themselves and use a temperature exchange called convection to cool their skin. Both panting and convection cool the body by exchanging the warm body temperatures for the cooler air outside. If the surrounding air is not considerably cooler than the animals’ body temperature the cooling system will not work and heatstroke can occur.
So even if it does not feel extremely hot to you, high humidity can quickly overheat your dog and he will not be able to cool himself the way you can.
Spotting signs of heatstroke in dogs
If you’re worried your dog is suffering from heat stroke, there are some common symptoms you can look out for, including:
- Increased body temperature (above 103º F or 39º C)
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heart beat
- Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
- Reddened gums
As heatstroke progresses, it can cause seizures, coma, cardiac arrest and, ultimately, death. Remember with short-muzzle dogs, you have even less time to get them help.