Summer is a time to enjoy being outside. Being out in the sun and depending on where one lives, people adjust their clothing accordingly and protect themselves from the scorching heat. They either wear hats, use the shade under umbrellas, or don light-colored clothes. A dog, however, has a thick coat of fur, which might shed a little during the hot months. Otherwise, dogs are unable to do much in order to stay cool.
Pet owners are responsible for providing plenty of water and the appropriate conditions for their animal companions to stay cool during this season, as there are a number of cases of pets dying each summer due to heat-related causes.
In June 2018, a fit and healthy 5-year-old dog was taken for a walk by its owner at 9 a.m. The temperature on that day was 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celcius). Unfortunately, it died from heat-stroke, reported the Altrincham Cheshire Branch branch of the RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) has also collected such negligence stories to serve as warnings to other pet owners. On July 2, they reported that in Orlando, Florida, a woman left three puppies inside a hot car while she was staying at a hotel. “Good Samaritans spotted them and called 911. While waiting for police to arrive, the people were able to get two puppies out, but one of them was already dead. Another died shortly afterward. The third is expected to be OK.”
Losing a beloved pet is difficult when it is a natural death, but losing two of your puppies in an avoidable situation is something most owners may find impossible to forgive themselves over. Eighty-four animal companions died of heat-related causes from 2018 to July this year according to PETA.
As per Pet Health Network, unlike humans, who cool off with the help of sweat glands, dogs have sweat glands only on their paw pads, so the only way they cool off is by panting. Thus leaving them unattended in a vehicle and leaving windows partially open doesn’t help to cool things down inside the vehicle. Dogs also have a higher body temperature than humans and don’t cool down as efficiently as we do. On an 85-degree Fahrenheit (29.4-Celsius) day, it takes only 10 minutes for the interior of your parked car to climb to 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.8 Celsius). In a very short period of time, an overheated dog can suffer critical damage to its brain, heart, liver, and nervous system.
In addition, the breed of dog and its color needs consideration, as dogs with shorter snouts “like Pugs or Bulldogs, have a harder time panting out their body heat, and certain breeds don’t tolerate the heat as well as others. This group includes English and French Bulldogs, Boxers, Saint Bernards, Pugs, and Shih Tzus,” as listed on Dogtime.com. As with dark-colored cars, dark-colored dogs absorb more heat.
So what are the signs your pet has during a heatstroke or heat exhaustion? An overheated dog might show symptoms like heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, and a lack of appetite or coordination.
So what can you do that might save your dog’s life? Remove the dog from the hot area immediately. “Concentrate the cooling water on her head, neck and in the areas underneath her front and back legs. Carefully cool her tongue if possible, but don’t let the water run into her throat as it could get into her lungs,” according to HealthyPets. However, remember not to use ice or very cold water: it can be counterproductive to cool too quickly.
As one veterinarian put it, know your pet and know the weather for that day. “Heat-stroke, or heat exhaustion, is more common than we think,” Dr. Shian Simms, vice president of Bideawee Animal Hospitals, told The Dodo.
“Use your common sense,” Simms added. “If you have a black dog, they absorb more heat. It’s true. A fluffy dog is basically wearing a fur coat; they can’t tolerate the heat either. They shouldn’t even go out on a hot day.”
Watch the video: