Hot Dog! How to Keep Your Dog From Overheating
9 September 2020
By Stephanie Skinner-Trotter
“This is ultimately what it feels like for a dog trapped inside of a hot car”, Tyrann Mathieu says as sweat starts to darken his shirt. The NFL player was filmed as he spent eight minutes inside of a car on a hot day to raise awareness of how easily dog lives can be threatened by the heat.
The PSA went viral on the internet, reaching 74 million (unpaid) video views, and spreading the word on the danger that heat exposure is for dogs. The dangers of heat to dogs is indisputable. In a car on a hot day, temperatures can reach 160 degrees fahrenheit within minutes. Even on a mild day, a car parked in the shade with the windows partially down can reach about 90 degrees. Within 15 minutes, dogs can suffer brain damage.
How can dogs overheat?
Avoiding leaving a dog in a hot car may seem obvious, however there are less obvious causes of heat related illness in dogs and other pets.
Your dog could burn his feet on hot pavement. Pavement, sand, wood, truck bed material and other surfaces can reach temperatures up to 145 degrees fahrenheit in the sun. You can test the temperature of surfaces with your hands to see if it’s safe; if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog. It is a good bet to stick to shaded or grassy paths for your pupper’s paws.
Another danger is exercising too much in the heat. When your dog’s favorite thing is fetch, they may keep chasing the ball and passing their safe limit. Or on a run, your high-drive dog will keep running beside you until he collapses from heat exhaustion. As The Human, it is your job to be mindful of your dog's limits and to regulate their exercise to prevent him from overheating.
Why do dogs overheat so easily?
One reason that dogs overheat so easily is because their methods of self-regulating their temperature are not as efficient as humans. For example, dogs only sweat through their paws! Although this does help cool them a little, their only other method of cooling themselves down is through panting. This makes dogs less well adapted to heat than humans. Just because you feel okay, does not mean your pet does. Also, dogs with short noses and flat faces (brachycephalic breeds), long or thick coated breeds, older dogs and younger dogs are more at risk of overheating, although any breed or age is susceptible.
What are the signs of dogs overheating?
You can tell when your dog is overheating by watching for these signs:
- Excessive panting
- Reddened gums
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncoordinated movement (more than normal for our more clumsy dogs)
How to avoid your dog overheating:
You and your dog do not have to stay inside on every warm day! Afterall, at Waggin’ Tail RV Park, our entire philosophy revolves around enjoying life with our four-legged friends.
- Splash on areas with skin like in between the legs for evaporative cooling.
- Give plenty of water while outside.
- Let your dogs wade into water to cool off, like canine guests can do in the swimming pond at Waggin’ Tail Ranch RV Resort.
- Stay out of direct sunlight, walk on shaded ground and on cooler surfaces like grass.
- Allow lots of breaks during play and walks for your dog to rest and recover. - Allow access to cool tile or wood floors when you and your pet return inside. Laying on
the cool materials helps dissipate heat.
- Play inside your RV. Explore games like “Find It” for climate controlled playtime.
- Keep runs and long walks exclusively for the early morning when it is cooler.
- Don’t shave your pet. Fur acts as insulation, both keeping heat in when it is cold AND keeping heat out when it is hot. Shaving disrupts that natural balance and can worsen overheating.
What to do if you think your dog is overheating:
If you think your dog is overheating, immediately get your dog into an air-cooled or shaded environment. Use cool water on the dog's belly and groin area. It is important to only use cool water and not ice because too much cold actually restricts the canine body's ability to dispel heat. Offer cool water to drink but do not force water consumption. Once your pet is out of the heat and triaged, call your vet. Your vet is likely going to ask you to come in immediately.
The heat does not have to stop you from enjoying life with your best friend.
There are plenty of ways to ensure that your dog does not overheat while still going on walks, enjoying the outdoors and playing with toys. By following these tips, you should be able to safely
enjoy the outdoors and travel with your best friend. Keeping your dog safe and happy comes number one here at Waggin’ Tail Ranch RV Resort, because your four-legged friend is family.