Keeping your dog cool in the summer

The warmest months in Hawaii are vastly upon us with temperatures reaching over 80F degrees and over 50 percent humidity.  What does this mean for your dog, they do not have the luxury of taking off their fur coat.  Humans have the ability to regulate their body temperature by sweat glands located throughout our bodies.  When we sweat the evaporation of our sweat cools our body.  Unlike humans, dogs’ do not have sweat glands located throughout their body.   A dog’s sweat glands are mainly located between the pads of their feet.  A dogs’ primary way of cooling themselves is by panting and breathing.

Excessive play on a hot day or lack of water and shade can lead to dehydration, heat stroke or even heat exhaustion which can cause death.  A dogs’ normal body temperature is 100.5F degrees to 102.5F degrees.  A dog body temperature that is overheated will exceed 104F degrees or more!   A dog that is overheated may act sluggish or confused, they will pant excessively.  The gums and tongue may appear dark or bright red, they may also be sticky or dry.  During this time a dog may also vomit, collapse, have a seizure, and may go into a coma.

If you think your dog may be suffering from heat exhaustion seek veterinary attention immediately!  In addition find shade, give your dog cool water (not ice water as this will cause constriction of the blood vessels and hinder cooling), place cool wet clothes around their head and paws, offer your dog ice cubes to lick (do not force your dog to drink water or eat ice cubes).

Here are some ways to prevent dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion during these hot summer months.

  • Always provide shade and fresh cool water for your dogs.
  • Provide a small plastic pool for your dog to wade or lay in during the day.  Keep the pool in the shade so the sun does not heat the water.  Remember to rinse the pool daily to keep clean.
  • You can find cooling products for dogs such as bandanas, vests, sleeping pads.
  • Make a delicious, cool popsicle for your dog.  Place treats in low sodium beef or chicken broth and freeze.  To be more creative freeze half the broth then place the treats in the container and pour more broth over the treats and freeze.
  • Exercise your dogs in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is not as strong.
  • Water your dog down with a garden hose before exercise.  The water evaporating will help cool your dog.
  • Regulate your dogs’ play.  Many dogs will not stop playing fetch or running because they are warm, it is up to you to give your dog a break with fresh cool water and shade.
  • DO NOT leave your dog in a parked car while you run errands.  On a day that is 78F degrees a car parked in the shade can reach a temperature of 90F degrees, in the sun it can reach 160F degrees!