We are pretty good about adjusting to the weird weather patterns that happen during the year, but our dogs not so much. As the weather gets warmer and the humidity starts to rise we usually have cabin fever and want to get outdoors to boost our Vitamin D Level and get some fresh air. We want our dogs to get some air, exercise and just be part of the family. They can’t adjust as well to the heat however and here are signs to look out for and what to do to help.

  1. Walk or Travel with your pet in the early morning when at all possible. The pavement hasn’t heated up for the day to burn their paw pads. The humidity hasn’t gotten overwhelming yet and the temperature is usually pretty good in the early morning. Also, the windows in the cars haven’t trapped too much heat from overnight making the temperature inside cars much more tolerable early in the morning.
  2. Check the temperature of the pavement before walking with your dog. If you can’t touch the pavement for more than a couple of seconds then your dog shouldn’t be walking in it. This can burn the paw pads and be very painful for your dog. Paw pads are also very difficult to heal and will talk a long time to do so.
  3. Always bring water when you walk. Even if you don’t think it is very hot or humid and you don’t think your walk will be long, always bring water. This first sign of heat stroke is panting which is only one of two ways dogs can cool down. The other is through the pads of the feet. If you notice your dog slowing down on a walk and panting more than usual then offer him some water. If he or she won’t drink you can pour water over their body to help cool them off and get in a shady spot immediately. If they are still sluggish, then carry them home or call someone to come pick you up so they aren’t getting any more overheated.
  4. It is a good idea to know how to take a dog’s temperature. You can get a thermometer at almost any store now, but you take their temperature rectally. Normal body temperature for a dog is between 100 and 102.5 degrees, up to 103 degrees even for some of the more excitable Labradors who just can’t stop. During heat stroke your dog’s temperature can rise above 106 degrees which means brain damage. Any temperature between 102 and 105 degrees should be considered an emergency and they should be taken to the veterinarian, even if this is not heat stroke then they are running a fever and should be checked out. If the temperature is above 105 degrees and your dog is still alert, then you can rinse the dog in cool not cold water, wet some towels and lay them over the dog while transporting them to the veterinary hospital and keep the feet as cool as possible. If the veterinary hospital is quite a ways away and you can monitor their temperature on the ride that is helpful. If the temperature gets to 103 degrees during the ride, then remove the towels and stop any cooling measures you are doing.
  5. Other signs of heat stroke can include rapid heart rate, red mucous membranes of the mouth, vomiting, seizures, muscle tremors and staggering. If a dog goes into heat stroke without anybody present, it can even lead to coma and death.

If you bring your dog along for some fun this summer, just be prepared in case your dog or someone else’s dog you see along the way might get heatstroke and need help. Also, if you see a dog in a car even with the windows down and you cannot identify the driver, call 410-222-8050 and report it so the police can find the owner and get the dog out safely.