By Ellen Wilson
As the weather gets warmer, your dog can get overheated – sometimes to the point of heatstroke. To keep him comfortable, follow these tips:
- Always provide your fluffy friend plenty of water.
It’s vital to keeping your dog cool. Keep a bowl filled at all times. Make sure it’s on somebody’s to-do list to keep checking the water and refilling it so your friend always has sufficient water; large dogs consume large amounts of food and water.
- Never, ever leave your dog in the car on a hot day!
He can get heatstroke and even die – and it can happen a lot faster than you might think. If it’s 70 degrees outside, even with the windows down a little, the temperature in the car can rise to 100 degrees in minutes. If you’re traveling, roll the windows down partway, and don’t forget to bring along water for your friend.
- Give your friend a place to get wet.
Provide a small wading pool where your friend can splash around. He might like playing under a sprinkler or hose. But don’t leave a large container of water unattended; a small child can drown if unsupervised.
- Provide shelter from the sun.
Your fluffy friend needs shade. If he’s outdoors, make sure he can get out of the sun. Try a beach umbrella or make a canopy with a tarp or blanket. Be sure he can lay down. Or bring him inside during the hottest part of the day to share some cool air with the family.
- Watch where he’s walking!
Hot pavement can burn your dog’s pads, sometimes severely. Even bare dirt or sand can get hot enough to burn. When you’re walking him, find a place to walk on the grass or in the share. If that’s not possible, get some booties to protect his pads.
- Get him a haircut.
Especially when your dog has a thick coat or an undercoat, it can be too much. Help combat the heat with a trim. Unless you know how to handle the clippers without hurting him, have a groomer do it.
- How about a cold dinner or treat?
Put his food in the refrigerator before you feed him. You can offer an ice cube as a treat, too. Or make doggy-pops. Put broth or bullion in an ice tray, then feed the cubes as a treat.
Most importantly, know the signs of heatstroke. Rapid, heavy panting, drooling and gasping for air are early signs. As it progresses, he may have a glassy-eyed stare and refuse to obey. His skin and gums will get dry and he may develop a fever and rapid heartbeat. Untreated, he can become weak and collapse, develop diarrhea and vomiting, even seizures.
Cooling him down quickly is critical; cool – not cold – water is best. Too dramatic a change can be dangerous. It’s important to cool down his chest. Put him in cool water, up to his chest, or wrap cool towels around his body, changing frequently. Offer him water, and call the vet.