Dogs do not sweat like humans do and the risk of not handling the heat is real. Here's how to prevent your dog from overheating this Summer.
Why do dogs overheat?
When we sweat, heat is transferred from the moisture over our body to cooler air around us. The sweat evaporates, which cools us down. Dogs' bodies do not work the same way. They have just a few sweat glands and panting is there way of cooling down.
Panting to cool down
Dogs inhale air through their nose and upper airways, which is exchanged for warm, moist air in the lungs and exhaled through the mouth to evacuate excess heat.
When do dogs overheat?
When your dog's body temperature rises over 38.9 degrees Celsius, it is considered overheating.
Dogs need constant access to enough cool water to drink on warm days to help with the panting process, but if the air is very moist and warm, it reduces the evaporation and cooling efficiency, which increases their risk of not handling the heat.
Signs of overheating
When a dog's temperature increases, they start panting excessively and salivating a lot. Their membranes get red and they may struggle to breathe. These are warning signs that your dog cannot cool themselves down anymore and they need immediate help.
Overheating must be treated urgently as your dog's situation can deteriorate rapidly, leading to gasping for air, struggling to stand up, having a seizure, organs shutting down and ultimately, not surviving.
Which breeds are more at risk?
Flat-faced dogs with shortened facial bones and noses are more sensitive to heat because their airways are less efficient.
How to prevent your dog from overheating
- Ensure that your dog has always access to fresh water and shade
- Avoid walking them during the hottest hours of the day. A walk in the early hours of the morning and in the evening after 6pm is ideal. This will also prevent them from burning their paws on hot pavement.
- Don't leave them alone outside or in your car. Even on a cool day, temperature in a closed car can quickly rise and become too much for your dog.
- Keep your home as cool as possible on warm days.
What to do if your dog seems to be overheating
If your dog is showing signs of overheating, move them to a cool place and immediately spray cool (not too cold) water on their coat. If the water is too cold, it can constrict the blood vessels in the skin and stop heat loss.
Fan your dog, wipe their face with cool water and take them to an emergency vet.
Even if your dog seems to recover, it is still important to take them to the vet as quickly as possible, as internal damage could have already happened.