‘Do dogs sweat?’ and more summer questions

Posted by Dr Dog. June 27th 2018. Tagged: Pet health and Summer pet care

Hot weather is a great chance to get outside with your pet. Every dog loves playing outside, but with hot weather comes risks. You may have questions such as ‘do dogs sweat?’ in the hot weather.

We’re here to discuss the most common questions, as well as offer some helpful advice to keep your pooch happy, healthy and most importantly – cool!

Do dogs sweat?

While it’s a common myth that dogs don’t sweat, they actually do. They just don’t sweat in the same way as humans.

You might not have guessed it, but a dog’s sweat glands are primarily in their paws. However, there are not enough glands to cool your pet down, like our sweat glands do for us. So when the weather heats up, dogs can’t rely on sweating to help cool them down like we can. To keep our dogs cool, we need to help them out.

How does my dog cool itself down?

The main method is panting. This helps to evaporate moisture from the lining of the of the nose, mouth and the surface of the tongue. If your dog is panting too heavily, it could be a sign of overheating so make sure there’s plenty of cool water and shade available.

Another method is a process called vasodilation. This involves the dog bringing hot blood directly to the surface of the skin. The blood then cools down before returning to the heart.

Dogs like to find a cool spot such as a tiled floor to get rid of the heat. Their fur is also designed to allow air to move through it. This helps them to stay cool.

What’s a fun way to help my dog stay cool?

A fun way to keep your dog cool is a day out at the beach or a lake! Jumping into a body of water will cool your dog down quickly. If you’re staying in, setting up a paddling pool in the garden will provide your dog with a quick way of keeping cool. Some dogs also love being sprayed with a garden hose or watering can.

Bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes and reservoirs, contain bacteria that may cause an upset stomach if your dog consumes a lot. Seawater can also make them sick. So make sure you carry plenty of cool clean water for your dog to drink so they don’t need to find their own! Always be careful of wildlife, and note that some watercourses may contain dangerous algae – so check before you go!

Should I cut my dog’s coat for the hot weather?

A fur coat might seem like a lot to wear in hot weather, but a dog’s coat is important. The hair floats as your dog moves, allowing air to circulate and reach the skin to cool it down.

While a summer trim is recommended for some long-haired dogs, shaving your dog may leave them open to sunburn and skin cancer, as well as vulnerable to the cold.

For the areas with less hair, like the belly, nose and ears apply canine sunblock to protect your dog from UV rays. Never use human sunblock on your pet; it contains zinc oxide, which is toxic to dogs.

What’s the best time to walk my dog in hot weather?

Try to walk your pet either in the mornings or later in the evening. Pavements can get scorching hot during the day, which will burn your dog’s paws. If you are in any doubt, put your hand on the pavement – if it feels uncomfortable for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s feet.

If you have to go outside during the daytime, stick to grass or shaded areas as much as possible, or even consider some boots to make it easier on your pet’s feet.

What are the warning signs of overheating?

There are plenty of easy-to-spot signs that your dog is overheating. The most obvious are heavy panting, drooling, over consumption of water, vomiting and red gums, tongue and eyes.

As overheating progresses even more serious symptoms of heat stroke can develop including disorientation, staggering, weakness or collapsing and ultimately seizures, organ failure or death.

If you suspect your dog might have heat stroke, seek advice from your vet immediately. It is vital to start the process of cooling your dog down as quickly as possible. Wetting the dog’s coat with cool water and using a fan are ideal as a starting point.

If your dog is overweight, it can get hot a lot faster, leaving it open to heatstroke. As well as putting your pet on a diet, be extra cautious about keeping them cool.

Flat-faced dogs are also more susceptible to overheating in hot conditions. Dogs need to speed up their rate of breathing through the nose and mouth (panting) to promote heat loss via evaporation. Flat-faced breeds have a narrow upper respiratory tract and narrow nostrils. This can hinder their ability to cool down and lead to heatstroke so take extra care in hot weather with these breeds.

How do I keep my dog cool in the car?

It’s always best to not keep your pet in the car for too long, especially during hot weather. Make sure your pet has a comfortable and secure area to sit in. Have the windows down or air conditioning on to make sure the car is cool and well-ventilated. Take regular breaks on longer journeys, for fresh air, water and toilet breaks.

You can buy window shades, or a heat reflective shade for crates, so your dog can find shade in the car.

Never leave your pet alone in a hot car, as cars heat up extremely fast and put your dog at risk of heat stroke or death. Leaving your pet alone in a hot car is deemed animal neglect under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and you may be fined.

Remember that it does not have to be very hot outside for the inside of the car to reach dangerous temperatures.

In case your pet has any mishaps in the hot weather, make sure they’re covered by pet insurance. Visit www.argospetinsurance.co.uk for information about our various policies.

Argos Limited is an Appointed Representative of Home Retail Group Insurance Services Limited which is authorised and regulated as an insurance intermediary by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

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