Few dog owners understand just how dangerous hot summer weather can be for their dogs, how quickly a dog can fall into suffering from heatstroke, and how dangerous heatstroke can be.  A healthy dog’s normal body temperature is usually between 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, but when heatstroke occurs their internal temperature can rise to around 106 degrees Fahrenheit, causing a chemical reaction that breaks down the cells in the dog’s body.  For this reason, heatstroke in dogs is always incredibly dangerous, and sometimes even fatal.  Fortunately, there are things a dog owner can do to help protect their dog from heatstroke.

Preventing Heatstroke

1. Make sure outdoor dogs have plenty of water and shade. If the weather is hot, it is important to provide your pet with ways to stay cool–especially through hydration and shade.  If the weather is especially and unusually hot, it is wise to bring them indoors where there is air-conditioning, regardless of the amount of water and shade they have access to outside.

2. Only exercise your dog in the early morning and late evening if the midday temperature is high. Even a very short walk in extreme heat can be dangerous to a dog’s health, so it is important to only exercise them when the weather is cool.

3. Always carry water when walking your dog.  Even if you walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day, it is important to watch them for signs of over-heating, like heavy panting, loss of energy, weakness or stumbling, and immediately sit them in the shade and give them fresh water.

4. Never, ever leave your dog unattended in a parked car for any length of time.  Even a car that is parked in the shade with open windows can heat up very quickly in hot weather–to a shocking 140 degrees Fahrenheit–and put your dog in danger of fatal over-heating within just minutes.

5. Use window shades and water on long car trips. Even in a running car with air-conditioning, dogs can heat up rapidly if they are sitting in the sun.  Window shades and cool water can help keep them cooler and more comfortable.

In addition to the above, you should never muzzle your dog on a hot day as they will be unable to pant and regulate their body temperature.  Trips to the beach or areas with concrete and asphalt should also be avoided because your dog will be subjected to reflected sun and heat without access to sufficient shade.  On particularly hot days you may also want to consider freezing water inside plastic bags or bottles and placing them on the floor for your dog to lie on or next too.  However you choose to keep them cool, your pup will thank you.