I’ll start this article with I’m a Canadian. We have 4 seasons here, although the two that seem to get complained about the most are winter or summer.
Right now, not even the end of May, we are sitting at 24C -but with humidity it feels like 31. It’s like you are swimming through the air when it’s overcast and when the sun comes out it’s a whole new kind of torture.
Dogs are more sensitive to heat than humans, and they deal with humidity even worse. Now genetics do have a play here- certain breeds are more effected by heat like bracycephalic dogs or snub nose dogs. Also young puppies, elderly dogs, obese dogs, or diabetic dogs are more likely to suffer from the heat quicker than a young healthy, fit dog.
My two dogs couldn’t handle the heat any differently. Sheldon handles heat and humidity well. As long as I provide water breaks and shade breaks he self regulates well. Kingston…he doesn’t handle the heat. 10 minutes into a walk, depending on the humidity and amount of sun, he will be gassed. His panting is much more labored and he will start to overheat quickly. I really have to be careful with Kingston and often limit his activity when it is hot and humid. When you have a dog as heat sensitive as Kingston, it really does make you appreciate dogs that do handle the heat well.
Regardless of the type of dog you have, know the signs of heat stroke so you can start cooling your dog down ASAP. The signs are as follows:
-Rapid Breating & panting
-Excessive salvation & thickening saliva
-Raised Temperature (101 to 102.5 degree Fahrenheit is normal)
Heatstroke starts to set in when your dogs core temperature hits 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Within minutes, the body begins to shut down. Body cells die, the brain swells, ulcers appear on the GI tract and the kidneys damaged irreversibly.
If you notice your dog starting to overheat then there are steps you can take to cool them down. First bring them into the shade and out of direct sunlight. Use cool water on your dog to help bring down their core temperature- ideally a running source to ensure the water stays the same temperature. You can also use damp towels on the areas can also be effective. Concentrate on putting the water on their neck, paws, and underbelly. If your dog will wade into a kiddie pool or body of water this can help the processes as long as the water is not too warm or not to icy. Using a cooling vest along with a fan is another good way of bringing the dogs temperature down. You can also purchase cooling pads that your dog can lay on that can help bring their core temperature as well.
Overall, when summer is boiling on full force, take precautions and make plans. Always have lots of water on you, take lots of shade breaks, and watch your dog. Exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening. If your dog is unsettled and active midday, use the time you would spend walking instead training. Mental stimulation will help tire your dog out or you could use food toys to feed their meals throughout the day.
Oh, and I think its quite obvious but don’t leave your dog in the car.
Above all. Have fun! Enjoy the summer and make lots of memories with your two legged and four legged friends