Tips to Prevent Your Dog from Overheating

By Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Now that you’ve read How to Tell if Your Dog is Overheating, let’s cover some practical tips to prevent heat-related illness.

1. Keep Your Pet’s Environment Climate Controlled

When it’s warm enough for your to feel concerned for your own comfort, provide consistent air conditioning and circulation to keep your pet cool both indoors and during vehicular travel.

Additionally, never leave your unattended dog in a car, as vehicles can quickly become glass coffins for our canine companions.  Although you may plan to only be away from the car for a few minutes, unforeseeable circumstances can keep you away for longer.

A Stanford University Medical Center study (published in Pediatrics magazine) determined that interior vehicular temperatures can increase by an average of 40 degrees Fahrenheit in within 60 minutes (over half of a degree per minute), regardless of the outside temperature.  The hotter your car, the more likely your dog will also experience hyperthermia (elevated core body temperature).

2. Schedule Activity During Cooler Times of the Day

Even if your pooch is athletic, don’t rigorously exercise in hot or humid environments.  Dawn, dusk, and evening hours typically have the coolest temperatures and provide the safer times for activity.

Provide rest, shade, and hydration at least every 15 minutes during exercise to ward off hyperthermia and dehydration.  If your pooch refuses to run or walk, never force him to continue and schedule an examination with your veterinarian to explore for underlying health problems.

Brachycephalic (short faced, like the English Bulldog and Pug), geriatric, juvenile (puppies), overweight or obese, and sick dogs have an increased difficulty maintaining a normal body temperature during warm seasons.

3. Prepare Your Pet’s Coat and Skin for Summer

An essential component of maintaining a dog’s normal body temperature is proper skin and coat care.  A well-groomed coat allows for air circulation at the skin surface and heat transfer out of the body.

Most dogs have a protective hair coat covering body surfaces, but sunburn still poses a a risk during sunny months or dogs living in balmy climates.  Pink-skinned, light-colored, and thin-coated pooches are especially susceptible to sunburn.

The nose, ears, and areas of exposed skin can be covered with pet-appropriate clothing or sun screen lacking salicylates and zinc oxide (which are toxic if ingested).  Epi-Pet Sun Protector Sunscreen is the only product currently available that meets the Food & Drug Administration’s safety standards for dogs.  The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends sunscreen application at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure.

 

Interested in learning more about heat-related issues? Read more here: How to Tell if Your Dog is Overheating

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