Dog Days of Summer

As many of you know, dogs cannot use perspiration (sweating) as a cooling mechanism.  Dogs can perspire a small amount through their paw pads.  However, their main method of cooling is through panting.  The following are precautions one can take to prevent heat stroke, dehydration, and sunburn in your dogs during the hot summer days:

  • Limit strenuous activity to early morning hours or late evening.
  • Use extra caution in dogs with dark hair coats or short-nosed breeds such as pugs, which can’t cool as efficiently with panting.
  • Make sure your dog has the opportunity to drink water during times of activity.  This may mean hiking/running/biking near a body of water or bringing water and a bowl with you.
  • Signs of dehydration include the mucous membranes of the mouth being pale or tacky to the touch, or the skin is slow to return to its natural position when pulled up.
  •  If dehydration progresses, your dog may become lethargic, and the eyes may appear sunken.
  •  For a mild case of dehydration, drinking water slowly over time resolves it.  In severe cases of dehydration, your dog may need to be placed on IV fluids.
  • Make sure your dog has constant access to water, shade, and ventilation in order to prevent heat stroke.
  •  If your pet is experiencing heat stroke, call your veterinarian immediately.
  •  Heat stroke is a very serious condition.  Signs of heat stroke can include panting, salivating, vomiting, diarrhea, and staggering.  As the heat stroke progresses, your dog may become comatose and have temperatures ranging from 104-110.
  • Heat stroke can result in multi-organ failure due to both thermal damage and lack of blood supply to the internal organs, which leads to death.
  • While you are driving to the veterinary hospital, you can lay towels that have been soaked in cool water over your pet.
  • During the cooling process, do not let the temperature drop below 102-103 as this can cause hypothermia.
  • Monitor unpigmented areas or areas with little hair for sunburn.
  • Sunburn looks similar on a dog as it does on a human, and generally occurs on unpigmented areas, the nose, and the abdomen.
  •  Sunblock is licked off easily, so access to shade is suggested for prevention of sunburn.  Also, try to keep them out of the sun from 10 am to 4 pm.
  • Aloe vera can be used to soothe sunburn in your dog.
  • Groom/clip long-haired breeds during the hot summer months.
  • If the hair is matted, your dog will be even warmer.
  • Avoid hot asphalt on walks as this can burn your dog’s paw pads.
  • Be careful with swimming pools during the summer months
    • Teach your dog how to get out safely.
  • We all love to travel with our pets, but if you can’t take them out of the car with you when you stop, don’t bring them with you.
  • NEVER leave your dog in a car if it is over 65 degrees!
  • Even if less than 70 degrees, your dog should not be left in a car that is parked in direct sunlight!


By following these simple precautions, you are left with little worries so you can enjoy the weather with your pet!