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Summer is beloved amongst humans for its fun outdoor activities, vacations, long days, and relaxation by the water. And let's not forget our faithful canines! They love summer for more days at the dog park, swimming, long walks, and playing outside.
But nothing is scarier than when your dog gets sick while playing outside. Sometimes fun in the sun becomes unsafe for humans and dogs! But we have you covered in this quick article on our summer guide to heat stress and heat exhaustion in dogs!
But here are some things to consider.
According to The College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University, "The normal range of temperatures at which dogs and other species can maintain their body temperatures without expending energy to increase heat production or heat loss is called the thermoneutral zone (TNZ), and ranges from...68 degrees F to 86 degrees F for dogs. Outside of the TNZ exist the upper and lower critical temperature zones."
The average body temperature for a dog is from 99.5 to 102.5 degrees F. Dogs hit heat exhaustion when their body temperature hits 103 degrees F. And at 105 degrees F, they are in heatstroke, resulting in thermal injury to body tissue. Since a dog's internal temperature is hotter than humans, ambient temperature also feels hotter to them than it does to us.
Puppies and small dog breeds have more difficulty regulating their body temperature. Medium to large dog breeds who are hearty and active will do better outside in the heat for extended periods. But their time probably needs to be limited and monitored if they are senior dogs or dealing with health conditions. And brachycephalic (aka short-nosed) dogs are naturally more susceptible to heat exhaustion.
A great rule of thumb is that once temperatures (especially with high humidity) are over 75 degrees F, you should take extra caution when taking your dog outside for over 20 minutes. This is because some dogs can develop heat stroke in 30 minutes, with death occurring within the hour.
If you're hot, you can bet your dog is too. And if temperatures (look at the 'feel like temperature') are over 100 degrees F, limiting your dog's time out to bathroom breaks is best! Because even if your dog is sitting outside, temperatures over 100 degrees F can quickly cause problems for your dog.
Heat stress is when your dog gets too hot for a short period, but he/she can cool off efficiently and show no severe consequences other than the sleepiness and mild dehydration.
Signs your dog has heat stress:
After taking your dog for a walk on hot days, you might see that your dog has some heat stress. But they are now inside and cooling off. Let them.
What you don't want is allowing heat stress to turn into heat exhaustion or, worse, heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion in dogs is caused by high heat or physical exertion. For example, it can happen when your dog is:
The longer a dog suffers the symptoms of heat exhaustion without being treated, the more fatal it can be. Heat exhaustion can start to damage their organs.
Signs of your dog has heat exhaustion:
So if you notice signs of heat exhaustion in your dog, take him immediately to the vet. While you might think you can handle this at home, heat exhaustion is a medical emergency. And your vet can give your dog an IV catheter with fluids for hydration and temperature control and provide oxygen if necessary.
A dog suffering from heat stroke could have all the signs of a dog with heat exhaustion, but they will also experience more extreme symptoms like unresponsiveness or being comatose.
NOTE: Use water that is not super cold- for drinking or on their coat. Ice-cold water to cool a dog down will do more harm than good. Do not stick them in an ice bath either. TOO RAPID cooling can shock the heart and cause vasoconstriction, which traps heat in the body.
Adult dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours a day. And in the summer, they may spend a little more time sleeping, maybe even exceeding the usual amount. While this is normal because summer heat can cause your dog to become tired, irritable, and less willing to exercise, you might want to visit the vet if they sleep more than 18 hours a day.
Dogs need to stay hydrated, just like humans. But not all dogs need the same amount of water. The more active or hotter they are, the more water they need. In hot weather, dogs need 3 to 4 times the normal water. A rule of thumb is 1 ounce of water for each pound they weigh.
And a great habit of practicing in the summer is to bring a doggy water bottle with you everywhere you go. Dog water bottles are great for hydrating your dog anytime, anywhere.
Signs your dog is dehydrated:
The best way to prevent your dog from overheating is by keeping him out of situations that will make him hot. Check our "10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Hydrated this Summer" blog for more practical tips.
And use this awesome infographic below as a guide to know how hot is too hot for my dog!