The summers are getting hotter with each passing year, and while this is hardly ever a problem for humans, who can take a dip or drink to cool down, our canine companions aren’t always so lucky. Covered in fur, dogs are more prone to overheating than we are. Thankfully, most pet parents are aware of this potentiality and are careful not to let it get to this point. But what do you do if your dog starts overheating despite your best efforts? How do you cool down a dog when every second counts?
What are the signs of overheating?
There are certain things to look out for when it comes to overheating. According to the Oklahoma Humane Society, dogs that are overheating often exhibit the same signs as human beings. They might hyperventilate and their pulse might quicken to dangerous levels.
They might look confused or weak, and their gums might appear pale or overly dry. Overheated dogs might pant excessively, vomit, experience diarrhea, or rectal bleeding. You could also take your dog’s temperature to be sure, and anything over 103 to 106 degrees is dangerously high.
How to cool down a dog:
If you notice any of these signs, get your dog out of the heat immediately. After you’ve found some shade, the Pet Health Network suggests a fan, mist, or cool breeze to slowly help them regulate their temperature. Obviously, a cool drink is a tried and true method for certification. However, you don’t want your dog gulping it down and getting sick. The best method is to administer cool water in small increments, replenishing with fresh water often.
You could also use a wet blanket that has been dampened and kept in the freezer for a few minutes, or hit them with some misty, cool water sprayed from the hose. Be sure to keep the stream very loose so as to not injure or frighten your pup. An ice pack, placed on your dog’s head, neck, or groin will also work, but always be cautious when using icy cold things in these situations. Something that is freezing cold won't cool down as safely or efficiently as something that is merely cold.
If you’re going to let your dog take a dip in the pool, Pet Health Network recommends introducing them to the water slowly. Tossing a superheated dog into a cold body of water too abruptly could result in further heating of the animal’s internal organs. This could make them overhead even more at their core.
As with the drinking water, the best method is to introduce the change in temperature by slowly dipping their feet and letting them walk in at their own pace. A small child’s wading pool might be perfect for this methodology.
What to do if your dog overheats:
If your dog’s temperature has reached 105 or 106 degrees and they are not cooling down, call your vet. That said, the Canine Training Center always recommends cooling your dog off at home before attempting any travel to the vet’s office. The center also offer a few bits of advice to keep in mind during these harrowing situations.
First, don’t ever use water that is ice cold. Cool water will prevent any blood vessels from constricting, while ice cold water can make things worse. Also, don’t force your dog to drink water, especially if they seem more focused on breathing. They will drink in their own time, just make sure they have access to it. Continue all cool down attempts until your dog has successfully stopped panting. If these remedies don't immediately provide your pup with relief, it's time to follow up at your vet’s office.