Dogs in Hot Weather
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During hot weather care should be taken with ALL dogs. Always have fresh water available. Always make sure they have shelter and shade to stay in. Never leave your dog in a car. Many people still think it is ok to leave their dog in a car if they leave the window down, DO NOT do this. Your dog could still quickly over heat and this could be fatal. There are still so many cases of dogs being found dead in over heated cars, here at dogs.info we want to stress dont leave your dog in a car! Even if you have a window down it is not enough to keep a car cool. Even if you leave water in the car it is not enough to cool your dog! If you park in the shade the car will still over heat, and as the sun moves the car may no longer be in the shade on your return. Even if your only going to be a few minutes out of your car, dont leave them, temperatures can soar very quickly. Be safe and dont take the risk!
All dogs with “flat faced” nose and head structure are technically called “brachycephalic”. Dogs with this structure feel the effects of warm surroundings and exertion sooner than dogs with more typical nose and head structure. Brachycephalic dogs include: British bulldogs, French bulldogs, pugs, pekingnese, and boston terriers amongst others.
All brachycephalic dog owners MUST know and understand the following
Hot weather can be fatal to a these dogs, they don’t even need to be moving about in it to succumb to the heat. Please make sure that any exercise is given early in the morning or late in the evening, don’t be tempted to go for a nice Sunday afternoon stroll when it is very sunny or hot. Also please don’t allow your dog to lay out in the sun for long periods, they do not know when they have had enough and it doesn’t take long for their panting to become out of control.
How to recognise when your dog is too hot:
Any exercise will make him pant but watch for when the panting becomes “heaving” this is the earliest sign that he is getting too hot. When the panting has become loud and is becoming a “roar” he has already become too hot and the outcome can be fatal.
Stages of overheating:
- Your dog will begin to “heave” as he pants
- Your dog will begin to “roar” – best described as sounding like severe asthma
- He will begin to look tired and distressed
- His tongue will be very floppy and very red in colour
- His body temperature will rise (normal temp approx 38.6)
- His airway will swell and his throat become full of white foam (caused through the excessive panting)
- He will quickly become exhausted and will fighting for breath
- He could die
How to prevent overheating:
- Do not allow your dog to lay out in the day time sunshine
- Do not walk your dog in hot weather
- During hot weather keep your dog inside during the hottest part of the day
How to deal with overheating:
- Lower his body temperature: Always ensure that you have ice to hand during the summer months. Pour cold water over your dog, especially around his head, rub ice around his head and under his tail (around his rectum). If possible stand him in a cold bath and keep going with the ice until the breathing is less laboured.
- Clear the airway: Squirt some lemon juice (from one of those plastic lemon shaped bottles that you squirt on your pancakes) into the back of his throat, he will hate you for it, but the lemon juice will quickly break up the excess foam and clear the throat. Do not allow him to drink a lot of water as this can cause him to vomit.
- Keep him calm: Once you have reduced his panic keep him in a quiet place and keep a close eye on him.
- If this doesn’t work then you need to get to a vet as quickly as possible – put a cold damp towel under him for the journey
Brachycephalic dogs overheat quickly because of the shape of their throats, their soft palates are almost always too long and when they get very hot they cannot pant sufficiently to keep their body temperature down, their attempts to pant quickly cause the production of foam which in turn blocks the throat and causes laboured breathing and eventually they will begin to roar as they try to breath through the blockage.
Summer Check list:
- Plenty of ice
- Jiff Lemon Juice
- If you need to go out freeze some damp towels the day before and take with you together with both of the above items and plenty of cold water.
- In an emergency you can substitute use packets of frozen veggies for the ice. Find a horse trough, stream, river or pond to stand your dog in or knock on the nearest house and ask to borrow a hose pipe. Remember this can happen at any time, even if up until now he has coped perfectly OK with the heat. Prevention is much better than cure.
Note: Stress can often bring on the same symptoms and should be treated in the same way as described above.
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