Keep Your Dog Safe This Summer

By Dr. Candace Boyd, DVM

Well, it’s summertime again, and we are all out enjoying our fun in the sun, in the salt water and the sand. I love beach days. But there’s nothing that makes me cringe more than seeing a dog on the beach during the summer. And I’ll tell you why…

Dogs can overheat so easily. Their core body temperatures are normally 100-101 degrees Fahrenheit. The only way they can dissipate heat is through panting and sweating through the pads of their feet.  They are built to conserve heat and are not efficient at releasing heat.  Higher body temps, with a full coat of hair and a hot summer day, can lead to disaster. Heat stroke is a very serious condition and is considered an emergency. Clinical signs can escalate within minutes. Recognizing the signs and knowing what to do will help save your dog’s life.

Early clinical signs include:

• Excessive or loud panting

• Extreme thirst

• Vomiting

• Bright red tongue

• Pale gums

• Thick saliva

• Increased heart rate

• Dehydration

• Watery diarrhea

Worsening signs include:

• Difficulty breathing

• Purple gums

• Fatigue/lethargy

• Disorientation/confusion

• Collapse

If you notice that your dog is having difficulty with any of these signs, there are a few things that you can do.

1. Remove the dog from the heat. Find A/C or shade. Restrict their exercise.

2. Allow the dog to drink cool water as long as there is no vomiting.

No sports drinks. No ice water. Or wet the tongue, mouth and gums with cool tepid water.

3. Cool the dog with water. Spray with the hose, especially the paws and the head.

4. Rub the pads of the feet with alcohol

5. Contact the emergency veterinarian.

You can prevent all of the above signs and avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke all together by leaving your dog at home and being aware of conditions that exacerbate overheating. Certain breeds with short snouts can’t breathe on a good day, much less on a hot day. Don’t leave your dog in a car in the summertime, even if the windows are cracked. Provide shade and water and don’t cover or confine your dog in an enclosed kennel outside. Allow your dog to swim or hose him down often. Also, allow your dog to rest if he’s working in the heat. Provide shade and water.

Enjoy your beach days this summer – just leave Fido at home!

About this writer

  • Dr. Candace Boyd, DVM

    Dr. Candace Boyd, DVM

    Contact Dr. Boyd at McNeal Veterinary Hospital, 189 Waverly Road in Pawleys Island. Her staff includes several four-legged good will ambassadors that greet patients at the door. For appointments, call 843-237-9212.

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