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Dr. Cornelia Fricke

VETERINARY PRACTICE & PET DENTIST

Oelhafenstr. 7, Leipzig

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+49 341 4616264

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Dogs and Heat

The 8 best tips for cooling off in summer

Summer not only brings challenges for us humans, but also for our dogs. High temperatures can be dangerous for dogs and lead to heat stress or even heat stroke.

Why is summer heat dangerous for dogs?

Dogs cannot regulate their body temperature as effectively as humans. They do not sweat through their skin, but mainly cool themselves by panting and using their paw pads. In extreme temperatures, however, this cooling method can be inadequate, which can lead to overheating. Older dogs, overweight dogs and short-headed dog breeds such as bulldogs and pugs are particularly at risk.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs

It is important to recognise the signs of heatstroke early so that action can be taken in good time. Symptoms include:

  • Rapid shallow breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Staggering gait
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Increased body temperature (40.5- 42°C)

 

Tips for avoiding heat stress

1. Provide sufficient water

Make sure your dog always has access to fresh water. Place several water bowls in different places in the house and garden. Always have a water bottle and a portable bowl with you on walks.

2. Create shady spots and cool retreats

Make sure that your dog always has a shady place to rest. This can be a shady area in the garden, a parasol or a cool room in the house.

3. Adjust walks

Avoid walks during the hottest hours of the day (between 11am and 4pm). Instead, walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler.

4 Never leave your dog in the car

Never leave your dog alone in the car, even for a short time. Temperatures in the car can quickly rise to dangerous levels and lead to heatstroke.

5. Cooling mats and wet towels

Cooling mats or wet towels can help your dog to cool down. Place them in the shade or in a cool room for your dog to lie on.

6. Bathing and splashing around

Many dogs enjoy splashing around in the water. A small paddling pool in the garden or a trip to a dog-friendly lake can provide a welcome cool-down. Make sure that the water is not too cold to avoid a temperature shock.

7. Grooming

Brush your dog's coat regularly to remove loose hair and improve air circulation. For long-haired dogs, a summer cut may be useful to help them tolerate the heat better.

8. Adjusting the diet

Another option is to adjust dogs' diets slightly during the hottest months to increase their water intake. You can include more wet food-based meals in the diet or offer fresh fruit and vegetables such as watermelon (without seeds) and cucumbers as treats.

First aid for heat stroke

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heatstroke, you should act immediately:

  • Take your dog into the shade or into a cool room.
  • Offer him water, but do not force him to drink.
  • Cool it quickly and intensively, e.g. by pouring cold water over it, measure its body temperature (do not cool it below 39 degrees), no ice water!
  • Transport to a vet in an air-conditioned car, as heatstroke is always an emergency.

 

Special precautions for certain dogs

Some dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stress. For these dogs, it is especially important to follow the above precautions and take additional measures to protect them from the heat:

  • Short-headed breeds: Pugs, bulldogs, boxers and other short-nosed dogs have difficulty with thermoregulation due to their shortened noses and constricted airways. Their panting as a cooling mechanism is less effective. They overheat faster than other breeds, even without physical activity. For example, brachycephalic dogs can become seriously overheated just by sitting in the garden or going for a slow walk.
  • Overweight dogs: Fat dogs with excess weight have a smaller surface area in relation to their body mass. It is therefore more difficult for them to dissipate heat. Being overweight also means extra effort and strain in the heat.
  • Long-haired breeds: Dense undercoats and a heavy blanket of fur make it difficult for breeds such as Samoyeds, St Bernards and Newfoundlands to release excess body heat. Their fur insulates them and makes cooling a challenge.
  • Older dogs: As they get older, their ability to thermoregulate decreases. Older dogs can no longer release heat as effectively. Their drinking discipline often diminishes, leading to dehydration.
  • Sick dogs: Dogs with heart, lung or hormonal disorders often have difficulties with thermoregulation. Medication can also affect heat tolerance.

 

For more information and personalised advice, please contact us. Stay healthy and enjoy the summer with your four-legged friend!

Written

2024/06/18

Dr. med. vet. Cornelia Fricke  

Specialist veterinarian and practice owner

Additional qualifications in cage, zoo and wild birds and reptiles

Veterinary densist (German Society for Animal Dentistry)

Autorin: Dr. med. vet. Cornelia Fricke

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