Small dog exercising
It makes sense that when dogs are asked to do activities outside in warm weather, a dangerous situation is possible. When a dog is expected to adapt quickly to temperature changes, this puts the dog at risk for heat stress.
Unlike humans, dogs cannot regulate their body temperature by sweating. The only place a dog sweats is around the pads of its paws. As a dog’s body temperature increases, the danger from overheating can range from simply being uncomfortable to a life-threatening situation. Most dogs are good at controlling their body temperature except in situations when their temperature goes past a critical level. In extreme cases, a dog could die from overheating.
Panting is the first sign of overheating. Although it is an effective short-term solution, it is an inefficient method of lowering body temperature in the long run because panting uses energy and thus generates additional heat.
Rapid breathing, shade-seeking behaviour, lack of motivation, and wobbly gait are signs of heat stress. Watch closely for changes in your dog’s attitude, and if you notice any of the following behaviours, you should stop all activity and immediately aim to cool down your dog while seeking emergency veterinary care:
- Heavy, excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Unsteadiness and lack of coordination
- Deep red or purple gums and tongue colour
- Rapid heartbeat
- Collapse or seizure
An overheated dog can be cooled down using a mixture of cool water and rubbing alcohol under their front legs and in the groin area. Do not use rubbing alcohol if there are open wounds or sore, inflamed areas. Try to get your dog to drink some cool water, but don’t force this as it can actually constrict blood vessels.
As you enjoy summer training and exercise outdoors with your dog, be smart, be aware and be proactive. Simple things can make a big difference in the outcome for your small-breed companion.
Tips on Smart Summer Training & Exercise
Provide Plenty of Fresh Water
Make sure your pet has unlimited access to fresh water at all times. When training outdoors, carry water with you to help hydrate your dog. A water deficiency has the most severe consequence to a dog’s health and can occur quickly. Encourage your dog to drink by soaking his food with water and giving ice cubes after exercise. A well-hydrated dog has good circulation and blood volume and is better equipped to adjust to the demands of exercise. At the beach, avoid seawater because it will make your dog thirstier and dehydrate him faster.
Shade Is Important
Be sure your dog has protection from the heat and sunshine. If you have an outside dog, ensure that his area is shaded but avoid enclosed kennels. Tree shade is ideal, and tarpaulin is a good option as it doesn’t obstruct air flow.
Never Leave Your Dog in a Parked Car
Even if the windows are open and your car is parked in the shade, you should never leave your pet in a car. Temperatures rise rapidly to dangerous levels and can be fatal. When the outside air temperature is 21C, within 10 minutes the car can reach 32C and will continue to increase.
Limit Exercise on Hot Days
Overweight and short-nosed dog breeds have a higher risk of heat-related problems when exercising in warm weather, and you should always consult your veterinarian before embarking on a fitness program. For all dogs you should limit their exercise on hot days and adjust the intensity and duration in accordance with the outdoor temperature. Exercising in the early morning or evening hours is sensible, and make sure to take frequent breaks. You also should avoid hot surfaces such as asphalt, as this can burn your dog’s paw pads.
Keep Your Dog Cool Inside & Out.
Try adding ice to your dog’s water bowls, and if they like to swim, cool water paddling is a great way to keep them chilled on hot days. Another way to keep dogs cool is to use a cooling body wrap or vest if they will tolerate the clothing. Soaking these specially designed clothes in cold water normally keeps them cool (and often dry) for up to three days. An alternative option is to wrap a wet, cool towel around their body.
Don’t Forget Pet-Safe Sunscreen
Dogs with white fur and particularly white-coloured ears are far more susceptible to skin cancer. Make sure to keep the particularly vulnerable parts of their body covered or use pet-safe sunscreen on their ear tips, fur-free bellies or other thin-coated areas.
Consider a Summer Haircut.
Talk to your veterinarian about whether your dog would benefit from a warm-weather haircut. Sometimes a buzz clip is the most sensible way to keep your longhaired dog cool in the warmer months, but some breeds have a specific undercoat that is genetically designed to keep them cool in summer and warm in winter. If you clip this off, it may not regrow to its full effect.
Practice Parasite Prevention
Ensure your dog is free of external parasites, such as fleas and ticks. Regular grooming is also a must, particularly in summer.
Keep Your House Cool & Comfortable
Provide different temperature zones within your house for your dog’s comfort. Be sure to give your dog the freedom to roam between them, so he can choose what suits him best. Don’t rely on a fan to keep your pet cool. Dogs sweat primarily through their paw pads, and fans don’t cool off dogs as effectively as they do people.
Take a Dog’s Temperature to Check for Heat Stress
Provide different temperature zones within your house for your dog’s comfort. Be sure to give your dog the freedom to roam between them, so he can choose what suits him best. Don’t rely on a fan to keep your pet cool. Dogs sweat primarily through their paw pads, and fans don’t cool off dogs as effectively as they do people