10 Hot Weather Tips: Hot Weather is Killing Dogs
There is no CDC for pets, but anecdotally more dogs are dying of heat stroke throughout the U.S.
Prolonged hot weather in places currently like Chicago and the Midwest, unexpected record hot weather in places like the Pacific Northwest and usual steamy weather in the South and Southwest. The average June temperature across the contiguous U.S. was the hottest June in at least 127 years, and July appears to be heading in the same direction.
Here’s a review of 10 tips to keep dogs safe.
1, Dogs Don’t Sweat It Out: Dogs being dogs aren’t as efficient at self-regulating their body temperatures as we humans are. Sweating is a more efficient way to keep cool compared to panting. Dogs do sweat some from their paw pads, so if you see little footprints, it may mean your pup is sweating. WARNING: If you see a dog’s tongue hanging out of the side of the mouth, and it looks swollen, odds are your dog is overheated, and could even begin to go into heat stroke. Stop whatever it is you are doing; ensure the pup is stable best you can and then find a cool refuge. If you have any doubt, find a veterinary clinic.
2: Different Strokes for Different Folks: The brachycephalic breeds – those are dogs with “pushed in faces” and limited airways have a reduced ability to keep cool. Examples include the Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, French Bulldog, Japanese Chin, Pekingese the Pug, some dogs referred to as pit bulls and others. For these dogs, a 75 degree day that feels comfortable for us, may be stifling. So, imagine what it feels like to these dogs when it’s over 90 degrees, even more so if the dog is overweight. It literally may be hard to breath. And these dogs, in particular, are prone to heat stroke. Even a two-block walk at 90 degrees of sunshine and high enough humidity can be grueling. It’s not unusual to see these dogs or also very large dogs just stop in their tracks and lie down. If that happens, the dog is trying to tell you something.
3. Not Getting Any Younger: Age is a factor in dealing with heat in dogs, just as it is in people. Elderly dogs just can’t cope like they once did.
4. Spoiled and Cool: Just as we are spoiled by air conditioning, so are our dogs. They may not be as acclimated to extreme temperatures as our great granddaddy’s dogs were. It’s unfair to expect dogs to sit in a backyard when it’s 90 degrees if they are not accustomed to those temperatures. And to do so without shade and water is downright inhumane and potentially dangerous and may even be considered animal abuse which is now unlawful.
5. Time of Day: Of course, for your comfort as well as your dog’s, walks and definitely runs should be early in the morning or after sunset. Be sure to bring water (for you and for the dog).
6. Jump In (Maybe with a life vest): Just as swimming pools are appealing to us when it’s really hot, the same is true for dogs. Do consider that Pugs, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese and others are likely to sink like a rock should they jump (or fall) into a swimming pool. Life vests for dogs might be a lifesaver, and so is adult supervision. Even the Michael Phelps of the dog world, like Labradors or Newfoundlands, can’t swim forever; ensure they have an easy route to get out of the pool.
7. Beware of the Water: Water can bring other problems too. Beware of the dangers of blue green algae in lakes, ponds and rivers. Sometimes you can see it’s there and sometimes not. Many communities monitor bodies of water for this toxin, potentially lethal to dogs and can also cause serious illness in people (though people aren’t necessarily as likely to swallow water or drink from a pond). Also, lurking in fresh water may be a bacterial infection called leptospirosis, which is spread by the urine of infected animals, which range from rodents to infected dogs and coyotes to infected farm animals to name a few. The good news is that there is an effective vaccine for dogs. (Ask your veterinarian about Nobivac EDGE Lepto4 vaccine).
8. Cool Pool: One totally safe way for dogs to keep cool are kiddie pools filled with about 8-inches of water. No dog can drown, yet they can lie down if they want or splash about. Periodically add some ice to keep the water cool. (However, freezing cold ice water is never a good idea.)
9. The Asphalt Dance: When it’s 85 degrees and sunny, midday asphalt can exceed 150 degrees. Of course, given a choice dogs will avoid walking on a surface that hot and might even burn paw pads. However, being a leash, we don’t give dogs the choice. If you can’t keep your hand, palm-down, on the asphalt for around three minutes, it’s too hot. When dogs “dance” on hot asphalt, it’s not to entertain us. Sometimes minor burns can’t be easily seen by non-professionals, but it doesn’t mean those dogs aren’t in pain.
10. Dogs Die in Hot Cars: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals notes since 2020 through today at least 54 animals have died in a hot car. No doubt that number is likely higher, as not all occurrences are reported. On a 90-degree day, a car will heat up to well over 100 degrees in 10 minutes, even with windows open a crack. That’s a potential death sentence. If it’s 80 degrees outdoors, hitting 100 degrees inside a car only takes 15 minutes. It’s not a myth – dogs do die in hot cars, and it continues to happen far too often. In this video, you can see I leaned what it feels like to be a dog in a hot car.