Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our August-September issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
It’s hot, it’s humid, and you’re taking a walk with your dog. You wipe the sweat off your forehead and think about that cold shower you’re going to take when you get home. But when you look at your dog, can you see the signs that he may be overheating, too? Take this quiz to see how your dog handles the heat.
1. As you walk down the sidewalk in the stifling heat, your dog is:
a. Keeping up with you, panting a little, but looking good. You just gave him a drink from the collapsible travel bowl you have clipped to his leash.
b. Leaving wet paw prints on the sidewalk behind him, which quickly evaporate away.
c. Panting heavily and walking too slowly. You say, “Come on, boy!” to try to make him hurry up.
2. The sun is so strong today. If you hadn’t worn sunscreen, you’d surely get a sunburn. You decide to:
a. Carry your dog across the street (that blacktop gets scorching hot!) to walk in the grass under the trees.
b. Run with him across the street so you can walk where it might be a little cooler.
c. Stay in the sun for a while longer to soak up that vitamin D. Your dog’s not going to get sunburned through all that fur!
3. You take a break under a tree. As you drink from your water bottle, your dog:
a. Lies down and enjoys the cool grass. You give him another drink from his bowl.
b. Lies down and is panting a lot. You figure he’s probably just tired from sprinting across the street.
c. Lies down, pants loudly, and drools a lot, although he’s typically not a drooler. You bend down to pet him and notice that he feels really warm.
4. You start walking back home and see that your dog:
a. Bounces right back up when you’re ready to keep walking.
b. Is walking slower than before, and you are, too. It’s really hot out today!
c. Is not getting up from the grass. You’ll have to carry him.
5. You’re finally home! Ahh, that air conditioning! Your dog:
a. Grabs his favorite chew toy and starts gnawing away on it.
b. Drinks water from his bowl, lies down on the cool tile floor in the kitchen, and takes a long nap.
c. Drinks a bunch of water, then vomits and collapses. (Holy moly, what are you waiting for? Call the vet!)
Fine and Dandy — You make your dog as comfortable as possible on hot days. You walk during the cooler times of the day, keep off the hot pavement, stay in the shade, and provide fresh water. If you have a long-haired
or brachycephalic breed or an older and younger dog, you keep an extra close eye on him. John A. Hamil, D.V.M., author and Bloodhound breeder, said, “heatstroke is best prevented by avoiding … risk factors and closely observing your dog.” You’re doing just that, so keep up the good work!
Too Hot to Trot — During your walk, your dog started displaying some symptoms of overheating. Luckily, you got home just in time for your dog to cool off before things got worse. Next time, if you notice bright red gums, rapid heart rate, dry nose, unusual panting or drooling, hot skin, lying down and refusing to get up, vomiting, and staggering, Dr. Hamil recommended that you “stop all activity, and walk or carry your dog to a cool, shaded area with good air circulation.” Provide water and wait a few minutes, and your dog should recover quickly.
Red Alert! — If you answered mostly Cs, your dog needs to cool down immediately — but don’t go
too cool too fast! The normal body temperature for dogs is 101.5, and a temperature of 105 is an indication of heatstroke. Dr. Hamil recommended using cool (not cold!) water on the dog’s entire body and using a fan, if possible. Don’t cool your dog below 103 without the help of a vet because this can be dangerous. (Let me guess, you don’t carry a rectal thermometer with you everywhere you go, right? Me neither. Play it safe, and take your dog to the vet if he shows signs of heatstroke.)