2013
07.14

Summer Heat Safety

By: David Bernier

Here it is, July 14th 2013, and it’s looking to be a hot summer. An average summer for Boston has 10 days that have temperatures 90+. We’re only half way into July, and so far this year Boston has already had 10 days of 90+ temperatures, two official heat waves, and there’s another 4 days of 90+ weather in the forcast. Being close to the ocean, at least Boston has the possibility of a sea breeze to cool things down. We here in Sudbury and the Metrowest area aren’t as lucky. It’s already over 90 today, and the forecast is in the 90s for the entire week. It’s going to be hot! And if we’re hot, just imagine how our dogs are feeling!

Here are some tips for keeping your dog safe and cool during the heat:

Never leave your dog in a parked car. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. When the outside temperature is in the 90s, this occurs even faster! In these temperatures your dog can quickly die from heatstroke or suffocation.

Don’t rely on a fan. Dogs respond differently to heat than humans do. Dogs can only rid their body of heat while panting. They do not have sweat glands – as humans do – except for a few on their feet. Panting alone is not enough when the temperature soars. And fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people. So make sure you provide plenty of fresh drinking water for your dog. Better yet, go swimming with your dog, run through the sprinkler or play fetch with one the many water toys out there. This way both of you can keep cool! If you’re out walking or running with your dog, go someplace where there are streams or a lake, so your dog can cool off!

Limit exercise on hot days. Remember to adjust the intensity and duration of your dog’s exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with dogs with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed dogs, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your dog’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. If you are out running or hiking, treat your dog the same way that you treat yourself. If you need to stop to take a drink, so does your dog. If you are feeling hot, your dog probably is also, so pour some water on their head and neck. (The best places to cool a dog down are on the neck, pads of the feet, and belly.) If your dog wants to slow down, assume that there is a reason and allow it. Remember you are the human, so you need to be the one to anticipate the dangers and not take a chance. If you are far away from help, the results can be tragic.

Never leave your dog outside unattended!  Go out with them, and when you start to get hot, it’s time for you both to go back inside. Watch for signs of heatstroke including heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.

Those dogs at a higher risk for heatstroke are those that are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds, such as boxers, pugs, boston terriers, shih tzus, and other dogs with short muzzles, will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

Stay cool, and stay safe!