Dog Days of Summer: When is it too hot for your pets?

Published 11:54 am Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Summer is finally here and with that comes flip-flops, bathing suits, shorts, and a reminder to keep your pets inside away from the heat. What we need to remember is that while we may be better suited for the heat, our canine friends are not!

 

But how hot is too hot? One clear sign that it is too hot for your dog is if their tongue is hanging out of their mouth and they are panting excessively. Canine cooling does not occur through sweating but rather by panting. When the moisture inside your dog’s mouth evaporates, it promotes thermoregulation, or the maintenance of internal body temperatures regardless of external temperature. Bonnie Bragdon, co-founder and president of the Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association says “excessive panting is one sign of heat exhaustion. Other symptoms may include low energy, unwillingness to move or walk, and rising body temperature.”

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A good thing to keep in mind is that a dog’s normal body temperature is higher than a human’s, ranging from approximately 101 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Your dog’s breed, age, coat length, and size are just a few factors that play into how long they should be out in the summer. Large breeds of dogs (i.e., Huskies, Rottweilers, Dobermans, etc.) are much more likely to succumb to hot weather than your Greyhounds, Cattle dogs, and Chihuahuas are. And don’t be fooled! Your Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Pugs, and Boxers won’t fare very well either. These dogs are brachycephalic, meaning they have short snouts, small nostrils, and narrow windpipes making it much harder to thermoregulate normally.


There may be other attributes that make it more challenging for your dog to handle the heat. If they have heavy fur, they may benefit from a shorter trim when it starts to heat up. However, you should never shave your double-coated dogs, as their fur provides cooling and serves as a heat protectant. Some other factors that can contribute to your dog’s risk of heat exhaustion include obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, and whether or not your dogs are puppies or seniors.

If your dog must stay outside this summer, please do your best to provide a source of shade and water. Kiddie pools work well for dogs that have to be outside but need a way to cool off. Remember to check the temperature of the pool water, as well as their drinking water.

Remember, they are not an accessory. Your dog depends on you to keep them safe and comfortable. We should all do our best to show some loyalty to man’s best friend.