Dog owners have to be aware of Florida’s Summer Heat and the potential for deadly Heat Stroke in their animals, especially in dogs. When our daily Summer temperatures are over 90 degrees, and the heat index makes spikes the temperature to well over 100+ degrees on a daily basis, we have to be extra careful that our furry friends can enjoy outside time without being in danger.
Read on for our Top 5 Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke in Your Dog.
Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke #1: Don’t Leave Pets In Hot Cars
The #1 cause of Heat Stroke in Dogs is people leaving them trapped inside a hot car. In Florida, it is illegal to leave pets inside a hot car, and those who do are usually charged with animal cruelty.
Even if it’s just for a minute. Even if you left the A/C on (what if it chooses that moment to fail?). Even if the windows are cracked.
The heat accumulation of the metal box that your vehicle is heats up much faster than the air outside of the car. Your dogs can overheat very quickly.
For more on the law in Florida or in any other state, check out Michigan State University’s Animal Legal & Historical Center’s guide to State Laws that protect animals left in parked cars.
Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke #2: Always Have Access to Fresh Water
Dogs don’t sweat like we do, but they still need water to keep from getting dehydrated. Dehydration prevents their ability to eliminate heat through panting.
Panting uses the air flow generated by elevated breathing, plus their saliva (mostly made of water!), to evaporate heat out of the body through their tongues, mouth, throat and lungs. Only a small fraction of sweat comes out of a dog’s paws and it’s not enough to cool them down.
Having access to fresh clean water when they need it keeps their mouths and bodies hydrated and allows as much heat dissipation as they can possibly do! Not having enough water can cause kidney and liver issues very quickly, especially in the heat because dehydration happens at an elevated rate when it’s hot outside.
Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke #3: Access to Shade
When it’s hot, and your dogs are outside for longer periods of time, they will naturally seek a shady spot to lay down.
Their instinct is self-preservation, as they know that when they get overheated they don’t feel good. Dogs will often dig holes and lay their bellies in the cool dirt they just dug up. Heat is disspating out of their bare bellies, this is one of the ways that dogs cope with heat.
Allowing your dog’s play space to have shade, especially shaded tile flooring or concrete, will give your dog a nice place to cool down while they’re outside playing. A fan pointed at them will make it even better!
Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke #4: Monitor Your Pet’s Playtime In The Sun
Dogs have very little that they want to do except please you. And they will do everything they can physically do to be with you and do what they think will make you happy. They’ll run alongside you as you jog in 100 degree weather. They’ll play fetch until they drop. It’s just their nature. Their loyalty and love never quit.
That’s why it’s up to us, their owners, to watch out for them. Dogs can’t tell you they don’t feel good. They can’t say, “Mom, it’s too hot, my paws are burning.” They won’t say, “Dad, if you throw that, I feel like I have to run and get it, and I’m way too hot, I feel like I’m going to pass out.”
We have to protect our fur kids from this heat. And in Florida, the heat is killer.
Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke #5: Know The Signs Before It’s Too Late
The first signs of heat stress are excessive panting, drooling, red gums, dry mouth, seeking shade, becoming vocal, and lethargy. If you see these signs get them cooled off right away. You can sponge their bellies with cool (not cold) water and point a fan on them while they lay in a shady or air conditioned spot. Usually after 20 minutes they recover.
More intense symptoms approaching heat stroke are usually vomiting/diarrhea. During severe heat stroke, bloody vomiting/diarrhea, gastric hemorrage, blood clots, and more, and they will need to be taken to the Veterinarian for IV fluids, blood clot testing, and possibly transfusion.
In Florida’s Summer heat, dogs should be allowed about 20 minutes of supervised play in the coolest parts of the day (morning and evening). If they need to go out in the heat of the day, it really should just be to urinate or defecate, and then come straight back inside or to shade. Some dogs like to lay in the sun and get warm – I know my older dog does because it helps his joints – but he usually comes back in within 20 minutes on his own because it’s too hot even just laying there.
Also, if your dog is not used to being outside much, don’t suddenly change their outside schedule to be exposed to the sun for a long period of time. Acclimation is important and necessary so that they don’t succumb to heat stroke more quickly.
Dogs who are overweight, have other health problems, or are short-nosed like pugs, boxers, bulldogs, etc., are more susceptible to heat stress and stroke, so be aware of that.
Well folks, that’s our Top 5 Tips to Prevent Heat Stroke in Your Dog. We hope that it was informative and helpful as you play outside with your best furry friends this Summer. Keep some water and shade with you and take frequent breaks to cool off, and have a great time!
Want more pet safety tips? Here’s another article about switching dog food in a smart way to keep them from getting sick.
Until next time, Keep Growing!