Although the hottest days of the year are known as the dog days of summer, actual dogs don't fare well in extreme heat. It's a potential health hazard. So knowing the things you should never do when your dog is overheated is crucial information for any canine caretaker. You don't want to accidentally make your dog feel any worse.
In fact, dogs aren't equipped for coping with high temperatures the same way as humans. "Dogs don’t sweat like people do. They use panting to cool themselves, so dogs that have trouble breathing are going to be more susceptible to heat stroke," said Dr. Maureen McMichael, boarded emergency and critical care specialist at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Flat-faced breeds such as bulldogs and boxers may need special care in the heat. But even dogs with more robust snouts aren't immune to soaring temperatures, so it's important to keep an eye on your furry friend.
In general, the signs of overheating in dogs can be a bit subtle. Panting, excessive drooling, and reddened gums are some of the milder signs of overheating in dogs, as noted in PetMD. It means you need to help your pet cool down fast. Read on to learn what you should and should not do when it comes to treating the signs of heat exhaustion in your dog.
1. Give Them Ice Cubes
Many recent social media posts have warned against the dangers of giving your overheated dog ice cubes, but not all sources support that claim. Giving ice water to dogs on a hot day will not cause dangerous bloating and spasms, according to fact-checking site Snopes.
Still, it's OK if you want to err on the side of caution. Although a giant cup of ice might sound refreshing to you, it may not be the best choice for your overheated dog. "It is better to offer cool water to overheated dogs and not ice cubes," said Dr. Susan C. Nelson, clinical professor at the Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University, in PedMD. "They should be cooled down slowly." Ice might change your dog's temperature too quickly, so stick with water instead.
2. Keep Them In The Heat
Even if you're planning to see the vet immediately, take steps to help your dog cool down. Seek shade or other shelter from the sun at once. In fact, dogs who have been cooled down prior to arriving at the vet clinic have better odds of survival, as noted in Vetfolio. At the least, turn on the air conditioning or roll down the windows in the car when you're driving the dog to the vet.
3. Force Water Drinking
Forcing your dog to drink water may seem like the kind thing, but it can actually be detrimental. In fact, forcing your dog to drink water may cause your pet to end up with water in his lungs, as noted by Hill's Pet. Dampening his tongue with a little water is generally OK.
4. Douse Them In Cold Water
Although dropping your dog into an ice-cold bath might sound like the fastest way to offer heat relief, this too could be damaging. Using cold or even cool water to lower your pet's temperature could actually work too quickly and harm your dog's health, as explained by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Soak some towels in lukewarm water and drape these around your pet instead for a safer method of heat relief.
5. Give Them Asprin
Medicating the dog immediately may seem like the best course of action. But it's best to avoid giving a dog aspirin in an attempt to lower its temperature, as this could cause additional health problems, as noted in PetMD. Let it rest and drink cool water instead.
6. Push Them To Keep Going
It's important for you to monitor the symptoms of overheating, because sometimes dogs don't know when to stop. Some field dogs will continue running around until they collapse from dehydration or overheating, as explained by the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation. Making sure your dog doesn't overdo it in the heat is up to you.
7. Discount The Vet's Help
If you're at all concerned about your dog's health in regard to heat exhaustion, see a vet immediately. Vets can help replenish your dog's lost fluids and minerals and check their overall health, as noted in PetMD. A trip to the vet may be just what you and your dog need to totally recover from an overheating scare.