No matter the breed of dog you have, we all need to be vigilant during hot weather. Excessive heat is dangerous for dogs and potentially life threatening. It is vital to be able to spot symptoms early and protect your dog. This will allow you to act fast and avoid further issues.
If you have a brachycephalic or short nosed dog (Pug, French Bulldog, Pekinese etc.) you need to take extra care in hot weather. Animals' noses play a vital role in keeping them cool. They do this by releasing excess body heat into the air when they breathe out. As a result of the reduced space inside the noses of flat-faced breeds, they can’t release heat efficiently this way. This leaves them at a very high risk for Heatstroke, even on cooler days. Their tolerance for heat is much lower than ours and their long-nosed friends. During hot weather it is important to be able to spot the symptoms of heatstroke. Constantly considering "how can I keep my dog cool?" is key to avoiding issues in warm weather.
NEVER leave your dog unattended in a car. This is true even on cooler days, as the car can quickly heat up. Be especially careful when taking your dog in the car on hot days
Signs of Heatstroke:
- Heavy panting.
- Increased respiratory noise – even more so in flat faced dogs.
- Visible distress.
- Bright red tongue or gums.
- Rapid heart rate or pulse.
- Excessive drooling.
- Loss of coordination.
- Vomiting and/or Diarrhoea.
- Weakness and/or collapse.
- Semi or complete loss of consciousness.
This may seem a frightening and long list of symptoms. Your dog may show one or many more of these if they become overheated. Quickly spotting them will help you take swift action to cool your dog and call your vet. Prevention is always better than a cure. How can I keep my dog cool? Try to avoid getting to a situation where your dog is displaying these symptoms. If you feel they are getting overheated, follow these top tips.
Cooling your pet safely
If you suspect your dog may be displaying signs of heatstroke it is important to immediately begin to cool them safely. These are emergency first aid measures, if you suspect heatstroke, call your vet and start actively cooling your pet immediately.
- Remove your dog from the heat into a cool well-ventilated environment, a fan is always beneficial.
- Avoid stress. Keep your dog calm with a soothing tone of voice.
- First provide cool but not freezing water for your dog to drink.
- Never use freezing or very cold water to cool your dog, this can cause shock. Use tepid or cool but not cold water.
- Lay your dog on a wet towel, again not freezing cold. Slowly start to wet their ears, feet and fur. A spray bottle can be good for this
- Continue to actively cool your dog on the journey to the vets, ideally in an air-conditioned car.
Most importantly, plan your walks and exercise, keep your dog cool in hot weather. Choose a well-ventilated area with plenty of access to fresh water. Keep them entertained - but not active, and keep them safe.