Heat Exhaustion & Hot Weather Tips for Dogs
We have had some hot days the last couple of weeks. For those of you who have been with The Mindful Mutt for a while, you know that I am EXTRA cautious with heat. "Better safe than sorry"is the motto to live by when it comes to your pups!
Depending on humidity and wind, temperatures in the mid-80's and upward can impact breeds of dogs differently. Some love the heat and will run themselves into a heat stroke without even realizing it, and some would rather sit down and hang out in the shade all day. Your dog will NEVER be forced to walk more than is comfortable and safe.
For dog walks on warmer days (over 75 degrees) the walks become less about the dogs walking fast for exercise, and more about enjoying the walk with their friends, with frequent water breaks and cuddles. On hotter days, we will walk in well-shaded areas, sometimes walking in large circles around a grassy area/park instead of the concrete. We also stop in the shade and hang-out/socialize, practice basic tricks like sit & stay, and usually I put some cool water on the pups' necks and bellies to keep them cooler, which they really love! Some days, we may cut the walks short to 15 minute Quick Let Outs when it is very hot. When this happens, you will be notified via text message. As I said earlier, it's always better to err on the cautious side.
Heat exhaustion & heat stroke in dogs:
The signs of heat exhaustion include:
Excessive panting; often looks like their tongue is hanging really far out of their mouth and they can't pull it back in
Aloofness; not following commands (more so than normal, of course)
Rapid heart rate
Dizziness; Wobbly on their feet; Tripping
VERY SERIOUS SIGNS of heat stroke:
Red or blue tinted gums/tongue
Dogs who are the most susceptible to heat exhaustion:
Flat-nosed breeds ("brachycephalic" breeds) such as Pugs, Boxers, Shih Tzus, Bull Dogs, Bull Mastiffs, Boston Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Pekingese
Long-hair & thick coats
Senior dogs (compounding health problems can exacerbate heat reactions)
Puppies (they will play themselves to heat exhaustion)
Working dogs (their working drive is so strong, they will work/play/fetch/chase/run themselves to heat exhaustion easily because they were bred to work work work work!)
Please follow these guidelines to keep your dog(s) safe during warm weather:
If you put the back of your hand on the pavement and it is too hot to hold it there for 10 seconds, then it is too hot for your dogs paws! Even walking on the hot sand at the beach can be dangerous! Your dog can get blisters and will be in pain for several weeks afterwards. PLEASE be careful of this! I have seen this happen with many new dog owners and it is not something that you want to learn the hard way.
Walk in the shade or on grass/dirt
Purchase a pair of warm-weather boots or dog socks for your dog
Plenty of Water
Try not to let your dog gulp down water (or food) too fast, which can lead to bloat especially is deep chested dogs like French Bulldogs.
A running water fountain might be helpful to get your dog to drink more water, unless he wants to play with it instead!!
You can freeze dog-friendly treats in ice cube trays, in Kong toys, or spread on a Licki-mat for a warm-weather snack.
My dogs favorite frozen treats are peanut butter, pureed banana, pureed sweet potato, beef broth (low-sodium), frozen wet dog food, frozen yogurt.
Cooling Neck Wraps
Especially helpful when you are outside and not near a body of water (hiking a mountain, for example), or a backyard BBQ.
I like to wrap ice cubes in a towel/light scarf and wrap around my dogs' necks. They really enjoy it!
There are a few options to purchase here: https://www.bustle.com/p/the-4-best-cooling-dog-collars-10137520
Especially helpful for very active dogs who don't know how to stop playing/working!
I have no personally used these, but multiple people have told me their dogs love them for hiking. The only downside is they usually leave the dog slightly damp. Here is a list of different options: https://www.mypetneedsthat.com/cooling-vests-for-dogs/
Personal Air Conditioner / Evaporative Cooler
If you want to keep your dogs cool but don't want to run the AC while you're not home, try a personal air conditioner (also known as a "evaporative cooler"). It used significantly less electricity, and some are even battery powered. You just fill it with water, and it will blow out cold air. Just aim it at the area your dog likes to relax. The smaller ones run about $40 and will cool a small area about 4"and last 4-6 hours. There are also larger ones that can cool as much as a regular air conditioner. I actually have a battery-operated one for the back of The Mutt Mobile so that it cools the air while the van is off! Here is an example: https://techxsv.com/coolair/order.php?net=1016&aff=6865&sid=&cid=312176905
Hot Weather Activities
Avoid running with your dog on hot days. If you are running with them, try incorporating a cooling vest or keeping the runs much shorter than normal. Keep runs to mornings or late evenings when the temperature is cooler.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people running with their dogs in 90+ degree weather and this simply should NEVER happen. Even if your dog CAN do it, that does not mean they will not suffer damage from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It can do irreversible damage quickly. PLEASE be careful.
Try these instead:
Playing in a sprinkler or hose
Kiddie pool in the yard ($10 at hardware store)
Walking around a pond or The Charles River so dogs can cool off
Visit Blue Hills Reservation and hike in the shade
DON'T FORGET SUNSCREEN!
Did you know dogs can get sunburn!?
If your dog will be in the sun for an extended period of time (maybe at a beach or with her head out of the car window on a road trip), make sure to apply dog-friendly sunblock.
The places you should apply are: bridge of the nose, ear flaps, any bare/shaved spots, belly, armpits, under back legs.
Pink-skinned and thin-haired dogs are very susceptible which include the American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer, Chinese Crested, Dalmatian, Greyhound, Weimaraner, Whippet, and White German Shepherd.
Here are dog-friendly sunscreens: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/pets/g26569527/best-dog-sunscreens/