With temperatures and the heat index soaring to well over 100 degrees these days, the current extreme temperatures mean we need to be extra careful with our dogs when outdoors. Dogs are at much higher risk for heat stroke and paw burn from scorching hot pavement after a mere matter of minutes outside. Dogs don’t sweat like we do so their cooling systems can’t effectively handle this level of heat.
Obviously since our dogs refuse to learn to use the toilet, we must take them out to do their business but please be extra careful when you do go out. Heat stroke is VERY serious and could be fatal as it could lead to irreversible organ damage and failure!
HOW TO PREVENT HEAT STROKE
Limit exercise to short potty breaks in the shade while keeping your pup on grass to avoid paw burn. It doesn’t take much for pavement to be hot enough to burn their paw pads. Pavement heats to 125 degrees when the air temperature hits the high 70s so even when the air is somewhat comfy for us, the pavement may be too hot for them. If you have any doubt, put your bare hand to the pavement and hold it there. During these last few days, I could even feel the heat through the thick rubber soles of my running shoes so imagine what that would feel like to your dog’s paws. If it’s too hot to hold your hand there for a few seconds, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on it safely.
If your pup needs to walk a bit to work things out, take them out for short strolls in the shade early in the morning or later at night when hot sun isn’t making things hotter. Sure, our dogs may be used to logging several miles per day walking and may even seem bored inside but better bored than burned. You can always substitute playtime or games indoors to keep your pup engaged and entertained without risking their health outside.
If your dog is older, overweight, has a thick coat or pushed-in nose, brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs, Boston Terriers, pugs, know that breathing is much harder for them in heat than in cooler weather. They are at even higher risk for heatstroke than dogs in general.
Do NOT leave your dog in a parked car! Like pavement, the inside of a car heats up VERY fast via a sort of greenhouse effect. On a 70 degree day, the inside of a car quickly reaches over 100 degrees.
HOW TO IDENTIFY HEAT STROKE
Some signs of heat stroke include: heavy panting that doesn’t subside once the pet rests, tongue color may turn dark red to almost purple, hypersalivation, vomiting and labored breathing.
HOW TO TREAT HEAT STROKE
If you suspect heat stroke in your dog:
- Get your pet to a cooler environment.
- Apply cool, not cold, water to their belly, ears, legs and paw pads.
- Do NOT submerge your dog in ice water or pour cold water over their head and entire body! Too cold can be just as damaging as too hot.
- Offer them room temperature to cool water to drink.
- Once your dog is stable, get them to the vet immediately! Just because they now seem fine on the outside, doesn’t mean there are ok on the inside given the risk of organ damage from heat stroke.