During the summer months, responsible dog owners must take vital precautions to protect their pets from the seasons many hazards.
Dogs have inefficient cooling systems compared to humans. With sweat glands in its tongue and paw pads, a dog’s primarily sweats by panting. If something such as a muzzle or a respiratory blockage interferes with its ability to pant, a dog may overheat quickly.
A high temperature of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit can produce rapid panting, bright red gums, tongue and other mucus membranes, vomiting, watery and bloody diarrhoea and staggering. Thick saliva is also a sign of impending heat stroke. If a dog is not treated immediately it is possible that coma, respiratory collapse and death can ensue.
If your dog shows any signs of heat stroke cool it off by submerging the dog in tepid water and immediately take it to your vet. Cooling a dog that is in shock too fast can cause further problems, and it can actually go hypothermic, which is too low in temperature.
Using ice water to cool your dog may actually prove to be a detriment, it can cause a narrowing of the arteries to the skin, and thus the animal will retain the heat longer. It is also a good idea to make a breeze like a fan, blowing towards the animal; this will allow gradual cooling.
Overheating can occur at any time when a dog is subjected to hot temperatures, humidity and exercise. I do not recommend leaving dogs in cars even with the windows down and certainly never to allow them to travel with their heads out of the car windows. If ever you see a dog in a car unattended for more than five minutes call the police, the owners will be fined. It is advisable to carry water in the car, keep the water in the boot of the car and out of the sun; dogs do not drink warm or hot water.
Pay attention to exercise if your dog starts to pant, stop and give water. Sand on the beaches will burn his paws; the pavements can fry an egg, and will also burn your pet’s paws. If you are off for the day to the mountain areas pay special attention if the dog has never been above sea level. Some owners condition themselves with a run around the block and expect their dog to run, this is unwise. Never allow your dog to run behind a car, one day he will run behind another and you will either loose him or he will be killed by other cars.
Exercising young or small dogs needs special attention. One must realise that small dog take 10 steps to our one, young dogs under 18 months need most of their energy for growing! Dogs in kennels need plenty of shade and water and it is a good idea to hose down your dogs a couple of times every day with the hose, not on the head or ears.
Finally a lot of thought should go into grooming and clipping your pet. Many owners think it better to clip their pets short in hot weather. I recommend that dogs are not clipped too short otherwise their skins will burn. Dog’s coats are for protection against cold weather and the sun.