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Your dog has a pretty cool cooling system...

With warm weather here, we all want to be outside enjoying the weather, including our best friends. We know to stay hydrated and to find shade or go inside when we get too warm, but how do we know when it is too warm for Fido? When we get too warm, our nervous system sends the signal to release sweat. Sweat is made up of water, sodium, and other substances that cool the body down. Dogs do not sweat like we do.

Dogs have a much different method of cooling themselves. Panting and temperature exchange – called convection and conduction. Have you ever noticed your dog relaxing on the cool tile floor of your kitchen? Fido is cooling himself through conduction. Transferring his excess internal heat to an object cooler than himself. Pretty cool stuff. Convection works by exchanging their warm body temperature for the cooler air outside. But what if the air outside is not considerably cooler? Their cooling system fails which can result in heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause seizures, coma, cardiac arrest, and even death.

When you are out enjoying the summer with your dog be on the lookout for increased heart rate, excessive panting, increased salivation, thick or sticky saliva, depression, weakness, dizziness, vomiting, and/or diarrhea as these are all signs of heat stroke. If you do notice these signs, remove your dog from the heat and contact your veterinarian immediately. While there are methods to cool your dog, it is best to have your veterinarian guide you through that.

It is best to prevent heat stroke in the first place. Those pets with existing conditions such as heart disease, obesity, older age, or breathing problems should be kept in the shade as even normal activities can be harmful for these guys. Always make sure your dog has access to water. Carry it with you. Never leave your dog unattended in the car on hot days. If it is hot, restrict their exercise to early morning hours or later in the evening. Do not muzzle your dog in the heat. If your house does not have air conditioning, soda bottles can be filled with water, frozen, and then wrapped in towels for your dog to lay on or against to help cool off. And please do not walk them on hot pavement. If the pavement is too hot for you, it is definitely too hot for them!

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