Ah, the summer sun… There’s nothing like feeling the warm breeze on your face as you stick your head out the car window, the hot sizzle of scorching cement sidewalks on your paws, and furiously panting to cool yourself down – wait, what?

While the summer sun signals rest, relaxation, and evening sundowners for you, it might not mean the same for your pup, especially if they’re old or furry…

Is my dog too hot?

Luckily, it’s not difficult to spot the signs of overheating in your dog. Even better – if you catch and address it quickly, your pup should be completely fine (but you probably still want to take them to the vet).

Here are the warning signs to look out for:

  • Confusion. This can be as subtle as your dog not being as responsive to commands as usual.
  • Excessive drooling, rapid breathing, or thickened saliva.
  • Fatigue. Pay attention to if your pup seems confused by normal stimuli or is uncharacteristically tired.
  • Staggering. Your dog being unable to hold themselves up or keep their balance is quite a serious sign, and you should take action and contact your vet immediately.

What do to if you think your dog has heatstroke

Your first instinct might be to cool them down as fast as possible, but you want to avoid shock by cooling them too quickly. Stay calm and take these steps:

  • Bring your dog inside or to a shaded area.
  • Wrap your dog in cold, wet towels. Make sure to pay attention to their underarms, belly, and groin area.
  • Don’t use ice packs, but if you’re near a body of water, you can put them in the lake or pool. Stay close though, their swimming skills may be not be as good as usual.
  • Give them cool, fresh water but don’t force them to drink. Don’t feed them ice cubes either – these may be too cold.
  • If you have a thermometer, check their temperature every few minutes. Anything above 41 degrees puts them at risk of heatstroke.
  • If you haven’t already done so, call a vet. Even if your pup seems fine, it’s important to get them checked out particularly if they’re old or have health issues.

The most at-risk dogs

You might think the highest risk dogs are furry ones, but brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs like English Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers and Shih Tzus are actually the most likely to overheat.

Here are some more factors that put your dog at heightened risk:

  • Weight. This doesn’t only apply to overweight dogs, but large and muscular dogs are also at higher risk.
  • Age. Dogs over 12 are most likely to experience heatstroke.
  • Fitness. In general, fit dogs find it easier to acclimatize to temperature changes.
  • Sudden changes. In the case of a heatwave, your pup may struggle at a temperature they’d usually be fine in if the temperature rise were slow and steady.

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