Beating the Heat, Part One: Recognizing Heat Distress in Your Dog

Hydrant Club’s namesake


‘Tis the season.

With the dog days of summer upon us (technically that’s not until August when the “dog star”, Sirius, is most visible in the night sky, but I digress…), whether you live in the blistering heat of the southwest or the humidity saturated swelter of the northeast, it’s a dangerous time for dogs. With limited abilities to regulate their body temperatures, excessive heat can lead quickly to heatstroke and death.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that spotting heatstroke in a dog is not hard if you know the signs.

Here are some simple tips courtesy of the Humane Society in Rutherford County, NC.

1. Pay attention. This one seems simple, but it’s amazing how many people just flat out don’t pay attention to their dog’s behavior until it’s too late. Keep an eye on your dog as if you see the beginnings of any of these signs, you need to take action. Excessive panting, hyperventilating, vomiting, diarrhea – all can be signs of heatstroke. Their gums can get dry and pale, they can have trouble focusing and appear confused.
2. Make sure to keep your dog in the shade at at all time in the heat of summer. Just having them in the shade, especially if on cool grass or a cooled surface, can help greatly.
3. When trying to cool your pup off, many folks make the mistake of submerging their pup into cool water. Bad idea. Doing so constricts blood vessels too quickly and actually make the cooling off more difficult. Use running water and cool not cold water. Avoid ice cubes and things directly out of the freezer.
4. Some folks think that wrapping a dog in a cold, wet towel is a good idea. It’s not. Wrapping the dog actually creates a sauna-like effect.
5. Don’t let your dog lay inert. Keep them moving around. The continued movement keeps circulation going and aids with the cooling process.

These are just some of the tips you can use to help your pup. In the next post on this topic we’ll provide you with some tips for avoiding heatstroke with your pup in the first place!