The heat is rising. With summer around the corner and higher temperatures sure to come, it’s time to look at ways to keep doggy cooled. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are easy for a dog’s body — after all, they primarily use panting to release excess heat, as the few sweat glands found in their paws probably release little to no sweat.
Many people try shaving their dog’s coat to keep them cooler. But is this the best method? This week, we’ll investigate whether it is and some other ways to prevent heatstroke and keep your pup chill this summer.
Assisting your dog, especially double-coated breeds, in regulating body temperature is imperative in the summer. Signs of a heat stroke include difficult breathing, excessive panting, and weakness. Vet Dr. Christie Long says 50 percent of dogs with heatstroke will die, with most dying in the first 24 hours. If you notice any of the signs, call your vet immediately. While waiting for appropriate assistance during this medical emergency, you can wet your dog with lukewarm water (cold water may lower your dog’s temp dangerously fast) to attempt to slowly lower body temperature. You may also want to fan your dog and offer water to drink.
To shave or not to shave…
Shaving is seen as a preventative measure for heatstroke or heat exhaustion. Though there is a lot of debate over whether pet parents should or should not shave their dog, there is good reasoning on both sides.
It’s simple — shaving does keep them cooler and can be preventative in extremely hot locations. Some breeders, however, say shaving can damage your dog’s coat and your dog’s natural defense against sunburn.
The bottom line is whether you decide to shave or not to shave is up to you. Regardless of the choice you make, it’s also good to keep doggy safe and cool in other ways too.
1. Cooling beds
This is a great tool for relief for your dog to try out in the exhaustive heat. Many retail stores carry them, so they should be easy to try out. Plus they come in a variety of styles and materials that increase your chances of finding something your dog actually likes.
2. Pet misters
These cool devices are easily integrated with the hose system most houses have and an absolute blast for dogs. And, hey, if you set it up in a proper location, you may get some of your yard or garden watering done at the same time.
Whether at the lake or in your backyard, make sure your dog has a shady area to retreat to when needed. It can be cozied up under the beach umbrella with you or under the great big oak tree.
4. Monitor temperature
Buy a digital rapid-read body thermometer and label it “dog” so you don’t confuse it with other thermometers in the house. To take doggy’s temp, Long says, “Raise the tail and find the anus directly below it. Put a little bit of lubricating oil — baby oil or cooking oil work fine — on the end of the thermometer and gently insert it about 1 centimeter into your dog’s anus. Push the button, and wait until it beeps before you read it.” You’ll probably need someone to help you with this. If your dog’s temp is high (above 103 degrees F), consider it a medical emergency and seek help immediately.
5. Travel with water
Even if you’re taking a quick stroll around the block, always have a water source available for your dog. And be cautious. The pavement can be too hot for doggy’s paws.
6. Keep them in a cool environment
Absolutely never leave your dog unattended in a car, especially during the summer. Leave a fan on for them at home, the windows open or the air conditioner on. Keeping the air circulating will keep them cooler and happier.
7. Keep the water filled
Make sure to constantly refresh the water bowl with cool water.
With the dog days of summer right around the corner, we want to ensure we give our beloved canines what they need to prevent heatstroke so they can safely enjoy a little fun in the sun with us.