Summer: Is Your Dog Overheating? ~Julie, Practice Manager

The hot days of Summer will soon be approaching, and we need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of overheating in our pets. By understanding how our dogs keep cool, we can ensure that they do not overheat, and we can enjoy those dog days of Summer to the fullest.

When dogs get hot, they do not sweat the way that we do. Sweating to us is a cooling mechanism; however, dogs cool themselves by panting and breathing. When dogs pant, the air passing over the saliva in their mouths helps them cool down. The lining of the dog’s lungs also serves as an evaporative surface, kind of like our skin when we sweat. Blood vessels in their face, ears, and feet can expand, also helping to dispel heat from the body. The normal temperature in a dog is between 100.2 and 102.8 Fahrenheit. When a dog’s cooling mechanism is overwhelmed, the body may not be able to cool itself adequately, thereby causing overheating.

Signs & Symptoms: What to Do?

Your pet may be overheating if there is excessive panting and breathing, collapsing or convulsing, bright red or blue gums, vomiting, or diarrhea.

  1. Immediately bring your pet in out of the heat.
  2. Alert your veterinarian.
  3. Run a COOL shower on your pet, especially to the back of the head and neck.
  4. If getting your pet in the shower or inside is not practical, use a garden hose to cool the dog or place them in a pool of cool water.
  5. Use a small bag of frozen vegetables applied to the head to help lower the body temperature.
  6. Massage the legs (this helps with circulation and reduces the risk of shock).
  7. Offer cool water and add a pinch of salt to the water bowl, as this will help replace the minerals lost through

How do you know when it’s too hot to take your pet for a walk?

The 5-10 second hand rule can be used. If you cannot hold your hand or foot on a walking surface for a complete 5-10 seconds, then it is too hot for your pet.

Something to keep in mind when venturing out with your pet during the hotter part of the day is that ground temperature is hotter than air temperature. Being a better radiator than air, the ground is able to cool more quickly. Shortly after sunset, the earth’s surface is slightly cooler than the air directly above.

When It’s Just Too Hot!

Air Temp 77= Asphalt Temp 1250

Air Temp 86= Asphalt Temp 1350

Air Temp 87= Asphalt Temp 1430

Which surfaces are the hottest? Some synthetic materials, asphalt, brick, concrete, and sand are five of the hottest surfaces that retain more heat than others. Sand is often forgotten because we associate sand with beaches. If you have ever walked on the beach barefoot on a hot, cloudless day, you know how scorching the beach sand can be.

Walking your pets on these surfaces when the temperatures are extreme can also lead to pad burns. If the pads are extremely burned, blisters can occur. Signs of a burned pad also include licking, chewing, a red or pink hue on the pad, or even limping and not wanting to move. Cool down the feet with cold water or apply a cold pack or compress, and take your pet to the veterinarian if the pads are burned. Treatment may include antibiotics to combat possible infection, and the pads may need bandaging until they heal.

Armed with the knowledge of how to recognize overheating and how to respond to it (or avoid it in the first place), you can have a safe and fun-filled Summer with your four-legged friend.