By Steve Dale
We know dogs can overheat inside a hot car, but they can also overheat just being outdoors. Simply playing outside can be a problem when the mercury rises, which may result in your dog having symptoms of overheating or even suffering a life-threatening heatstroke.
Dogs will sometimes keep going just to please us, which is why it’s important we know the signs of dehydration and heatstroke and can head somewhere cooler well before the animal is at serious risk. Signs of discomfort from overheating include excessive panting or drooling, hyperventilation, vomiting or diarrhea, dehydration with pale gums and blood in bowel movements. These symptoms may come about whether your dog is resting or being active outside.
Dr. Mark Russak, former president of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), advises if you go running with your dog and it’s hot outside, plan the jog early in the morning or after sundown, and always bring water (for yourself and for the dog). In hot weather, it’s best to take dogs out for walks early in the morning or after dark because the concrete or asphalt is cooler.
When it’s 85 degrees and sunny, midday asphalt can exceed 150 degrees. Of course, given a choice, dogs will avoid walking on a surface that hot. However, we don’t always give dogs the choice. On a leash, there’s nowhere to go, so dogs “dance” on hot asphalt, potentially burning paw pads. “If that begins to happen, pick up a small dog, or do what you can to get off the asphalt as soon as you can,” said Russak. It’s always best to look for shade and grass when taking your dogs outside during hot weather.
If your dog does suffer from a heatstroke, it’s important to first and foremost move to an air-conditioned area. The Humane Society recommends applying ice packs, cold towels and cool water to the dog’s head, neck and chest. Make sure your pup has ample drinking water as well. As always, consult your veterinarian if you have additional questions or concerns.