Don’t let your Dog Overheat!

I wanted to share with you some heat facts that I recently sent to all of our dog walkers:

Hi all,

Overheated dog

This boy needs to cool off!

I know you are all professional dog walkers and have experience with walking dogs in the heat, but this week sure is a scorcher and its worthwhile repeating some suggestions on what to do in the heat.

Dogs can’t sweat the way we do, having almost no sweat glands, and their body temperature can rise dangerously, very quickly.  They cool through panting and drinking cool water.

Heat exhaustion in dogs is often caused by dehydration and overheating from running or over-exercising during hot weather. Heatstroke can occur when your dog’s body temperature is too high for a prolonged period of time, and both can lead to brain and organ damage, heart failure and even death. Short-nosed, thick-coated breeds and (just as with people) puppies, seniors and dogs with respiratory, cardiovascular and other health problems are especially susceptible.

First of all, follow the instructions of your client and if they haven’t been specific, ask them, through text, email or your notes,  if they’d like you to shorten the walks and allow more time to play with the dogs inside where it is cool. In the absence of instructions, use your good sense.

 ALWAYS carry water with you, preferably cool, and either a collapsible bowl, or in a container which allows the dog to drink from it.  Offer water to the dog often.

Avoid direct sun routes, modifying your route wherever possible to find more shade and/or grassy areas.  Grass is much cooler than asphalt or concrete.  Look for shade trees and in some areas there are nice trails through woods.

Some of the signs of heatstroke are panting hard, staggering gait, rapid heartbeat, dazed look, listlessness, restlessness, dark red or purple gums and/or tongue and vomiting.  The dog could just look different from usual and be a bit unsteady.  If you suspect a heat-induced illness in one of your dogs, gradually lower his body temperature by moving him to the shade or air conditioning, apply cold packs (look in the freezer for these, or improvise with frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel – don’t apply ice directly) to his head, neck or belly, or immerse in cool (not cold) water, giving small amounts of cool water or ice cubes to lick — and then take him to the vet immediately.

Contact the client and let them know you are taking their dog to the vet – you may save its life.  At the very least contact me and describe how the dog appears and is acting.

Thanks, and let’s have a safe summer!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynnfriedman/5028622401/”>Lynn Friedman</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>