With Our Resident Animal Behaviourist 

How to avoid heat stress or overheating your dogs

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Dogs cool themselves in hot temperatures by panting and drinking cool water. A dog cannot sweat through their skin like humans do. Their sweat glands are located on the pads of their paws. So instead, they pant to circulate cool air through their bodies and cool their internal temperatures. Drinking cool, fresh water helps to do this – and if there’s no access to water, they can quickly overheat, resulting in permanent brain damage and even death.

Whilst all animals are at risk from heat stress, those with dark, heavy coats and dogs with short noses such as Pugs, Pekinese and Boxers are most susceptible to heat.

Here is what you can do to help your pets on hot summer days:
  1. Ensure your pet always has access to fresh, clean water. Refill their bowls regularly, especially after play sessions or walks.
  2. Hot temperatures can cause heat exhaustion or heatstroke in pets. Limit exercise on particularly hot days and opt for early morning or evening walks when it’s cooler. Hot pavement/asphalt can burn your pet’s paws. Follow the seven-second rule: “Hold the back of your hand on the pavement for seven seconds and if it’s too hot for you, it’ll be too hot for your dog.” Provide Indoor Play: On extremely hot days, engage your pet in indoor activities like puzzle toys, hide-and-seek, or training exercises to keep them mentally stimulated without physical exertion.

  3. Ensure your pet has a shaded area to retreat to when outdoors. This could be under a tree, a canopy, or even a pet-friendly sunshade.

  4. Never Leave Pets in Cars: Even with the windows cracked, cars can quickly become ovens in the summer heat. A parked car, on a hot, summery day of 27 degrees Celsius, even with windows left slightly open “for air” can reach an internal temperature of almost 50 degrees Celsius – in just ten minutes! Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.
Symptoms of heat stress include:

• Intense, rapid panting
• Wide eyes
• Salivating, staggering, weak and dark red gums and tongue
• Respiratory distress or hyperventilation
• Advanced heat stroke victims will collapse and become unconscious.
• Depression
• Weakness
• Dizziness
• Vomiting – sometimes with blood
• Diarrhea
• Shock
• Coma

Should your pet show any signs of these symptoms, please immediately take him/her to the nearest veterinarian.

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