Now that the warm weather is here, I’d like to talk about keeping your dog cool during the summer. First, make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water. Green algae-ridden water sitting there for a week is not acceptable. Nor is water that has reached 150 degrees from sitting in the sun. Make sure that your dog has a shaded, cool place to take refuge. Little dogs will overheat as well, even quicker than larger dogs. Dogs cool themselves by sweating through their paws and panting. Dogs with flat faces tend to overheat quicker. Dogs without an undercoat, such as smooth hair breeds, have a problem due to the lack of insulating fur between the skin and the outer coat. That leaves them more susceptible to the sun. Watch your dog’s tongue while it is panting. If you see the end widen or curl, the dog needs to go to a cool area.
Be careful exercising your dog in hot weather. They will overheat much quicker. When temperatures get extreme, no dog should be outdoors, even with shade. When it’s 98 degrees, shade under a tree will not be cool enough to prevent overheating. Dogs have died being kept outdoors during extremely hot weather. The city of Warwick has an ordinance that allows Animal Control Officers to determine if it’s too hot or cold for a dog that takes into consideration it’s weight, coat and living conditions.
Every year we have at least a couple of dogs die due to heat stroke from being left in a vehicle. Even if it isn’t extremely hot, the temperature in the car can be considerably higher than outdoors, even with the windows down. Leaving your dog “only for a few minutes” can result in death very quickly. We have an ordinance that allows fines for anyone who leaves their pet in a hot vehicle and even more charges if it results in a dead animal. When I am uncertain if it’s too hot in my car, I sit for several minutes in the part of the car the dogs would. I have a hatchback and it’s warmer back there compared to the seats. If it gets really warm for me, it’s too warm for them. If you need to put the dog in the car, leave the air conditioner on. A dog with heat stroke shows pale gums, a bright red tongue, disorientation or restlessness, thick saliva, vomiting, breathing difficulties and collapse. Immediately get the dog to a cooler place and take him to the vet. There is no time to waste. Temperature increases will damage the organs. Do not transport the dog in a hot vehicle. Do not douse a hot dog with very cold water. The extreme change in temperature can send a dog into shock. Try putting cool wet towels on the dog on the way to the vet.
Also, don’t leave a dog in a plastic crate in an area without air conditioning. If there’s no air conditioning, don’t use a plastic crate. Leave the dog loose, use a fan or give the dog the option to go down to a basement or cellar.