Hi, I'm Annie a 14 month yellow Labrador Retriever. I wanted to tell you that summer is right around the corner, but the hot weather is already here. Summer is a time for lots of outdoor activities and many of them involve the entire family including us dogs. Keep in mind, dogs suffer from the hot weather just like humans. Understanding how your dog is able is cool itself down is very important to all owners. Dogs are endothermic; (which is a fancy name for warm-blooded) Dogs need to maintain and regulate their own body temperature within a set and safe range. Even a dog knows that humans carry a standard temperature of 98.6 degrees on average. Fido's average temp should be around 101.5 degrees.
As the environment gets warmer and/or humid a dog will regulate body temperature by mainly panting, unlike humans who sweat when they are hot, dogs do not use sweating through their skin as their cooling mechanism. I think our method is less messy and stinky.
A PANTING DOG IS A HOT DOG: As a dog is panting, the mouth is open and the tongue is hanging out - breathing air in through the nose and out through the mouth, air passes over the tongue, saliva and moisture on the tongue evaporates, the blood in the tongue is cooled and circulated around the body. Did you know this?
We dogs need plenty of shade if outside on a warm day. Remember that the sun moves round throughout the day, so an area can be shaded and then exposed. Make sure to check that your dog has constant access to a well shaded area at all times of the day.
Dogs need a constant supply of fresh, cool (not boiled in the sun hot) drinking water. Bowls can get knocked over or played with and spilt. Before you know it, your dog is dehydrating and in distress, so make sure there is plenty of water down at all times. (both indoors and outside)
Many dogs like myself will still run and play in the sun if allowed to - it almost seems like we don't know when to stop, but that's your job. Watching me chase a tennis ball 50 times on a hot day isn't good for me. (but I do like to chase them) A dog can suffer from heatstroke due to physical actvity on a warm, hot or humid day. Go out in the midday sun to avoid the hot rays of the day. My master's like to throw the ball in the air conditioned house as well. As of this writing, I have only heard loud crashing noises on a couple of times. I just blamed the cat.
Older dogs and dogs which are overweight need extra care in the hot weather as they can overheat a lot quicker and may be less tolerant to the heat and less able to regulate their body temperature. I think this is the same for you humans as well.
SIGNS OF HEATSTROKE IN A DOG: Raised body temperature, heavy and rapid panting, laboured breathing, weakness, side eyes, red tongue, rapid pulse, disorientation, exhaustion, diarrhoea, vomiting and distress. A dog can also collapse and go into a coma.
HOW TO COOL A DOG DOWN: Move the dog into a shaded area, offer cool water but don't force a dog to drink, soak the dog in water, point an electric fan in the dogs direction, and stay calm and talk to your dog. Remember not to over cool your dog. You don't want his body temperature dropping too low-hypothermia. Stop cooling us when our rectal temperature hits 103 degrees.
TIP: If you take your dog's temperature when he is well, you'll be more familiar with what to do should an emergency ever arise.