If the temperatures rise sharply in summer, dogs also suffer from the heat. For the dog’s sake, unnecessary exertion can be avoided, as there is a risk of sunburn, overheating, sunstroke, and heatstroke. With these tips, you can protect your family from the heat and get through the hot summer together with them.
Why protect the dog from the heat?
In contrast to us humans, dogs have only a few sweat glands, which are of little importance for temperature regulation. Dogs cool down through so-called thermal windows. These are specific areas of the body that are barely hairy. A dog can cool himself down over these areas of the skin through a certain body position, but also by looking for cool surfaces or water. But first and foremost, the body temperature is lowered by panting. This costs energy and the dog loses a lot of fluids in the process. These endogenous mechanisms quickly reach their limits when there is intense ambient heat and strenuous activities in warm summers. Then the dog can no longer cool itself down and overheat. Older dogs and dogs with very thick fur are, particularly at risk.
Overheating in dogs – heatstroke and sunstroke
In the case of very high temperatures or exertion in the heat, even strong panting by the dogs is no longer sufficient. They try to avoid the heat and find a cooler place on their own. This is where overheating begins, which can result in heatstroke and even the death of a dog. During heat stroke, the body temperature is over 41 ° C. The blood flow changes, organs are no longer adequately supplied with oxygen-rich blood, enzymes stop working and the brain swells to form cerebral edema.
Restlessness, vomiting, noticeably light or dark mucous membranes, shallow breathing, and indifference to the point of unconsciousness are typical symptoms.
The affected dog must be cooled down as quickly as possible in order to survive, preferably with running, cool water. A veterinarian is then visited directly because heatstroke always causes long-term damage.
In the case of sunstroke, the heat acts, strong solar radiation, directly on the head area. This leads to a build-up of heat in the head, swelling of the brain, and, as a result, damage to the central nervous system. The symptoms are very similar to those of heatstroke.
Sunburn in the dog
Especially light (white and gray) and only moderately hairy dogs are sensitive to solar radiation and easily get sunburned. Ears and nose are, particularly at risk. You can recognize sunburn by red, flaky, or inflamed skin that causes itching and pain. Affected dogs should immediately be brought into the shade and the burned areas should be cooled, for example with a wet T-shirt. A visit to the vet is necessary for more severe burns. Waterproof sun cream from a sun protection factor of 30 or sun blockers with zinc oxide also protects dogs from sunburn. If you are unsure whether your dog will lick the sunscreen, use creams for babies. For very sensitive dogs there are also caps and light coats with UV protection.
Tips to protect dogs from heat
Do not leave your dog in the car when it is hot
One of the biggest summer death traps for dogs is the car. A vehicle standing in the blazing sun can heat up even at pleasant outside temperatures of 20 ° C to 40 ° C. Left alone, a dog in the car has no way of evading the high temperatures and cooling off. Even a short purchase can lead to the unnecessary death of a dog. Even if it is “only” five minutes with the window open – never leave your dog in the car in summer!
Adapt activities with your dog to the temperatures
Exercise in summer heat poses a risk of overheating for most dogs. Long walks and dog sports (agility, dog dance, etc.) should therefore be postponed to the early morning or late evening hours. Even bike tours on hot days are not good for dogs. Chasing after is much more strenuous for dogs than light pedaling for cyclists. You should also adapt the length of the walks to your dog and the summer temperatures. Walks in the shady forest with the occasional opportunity to swim are far better tolerated by dogs than walks over shady areas and fields. Especially when the grain is already higher, the heat builds up over the paths between the fields.
Avoid asphalt and paved roads with a dog when it is hot
Asphalt can heat up so much at high temperatures that it can burn the pads of the dog’s paws. The effect is even stronger with some paving stones. You should therefore prefer to go on edge strips and natural substrate. Standing breaks for conversations with other people or the like should be avoided at all costs.
Dogs need more water when it is hot. Well-filled drinking bowls are therefore always ready. For on the go there are bottles with integrated bowls or collapsible bowls that are easy to take with you so that your dog can drink on walks. How about some water in the form of ice cubes for dogs?
Provide the dog with opportunities to cool off
Whether on the walk or in the garden at home, many dogs are happy to take a bath and cool off. Even cooling off with the paws when running through water will help your dog in the heat.
With persistent high temperatures and drought, germs of different species multiply, especially in small, stagnant bodies of water. As a dog owner, you should weigh up whether you want your dog to bathe and drink or not. Pay attention to unusual colors of the water and whether the water surface is already covered with a greenish-gray layer due to the lack of water movement. Blue-green algae and botulinum toxins can be dangerous for dogs.
Dogs like to look for tiled floors when it is hot because it is cooler. Some dogs also lie on wet towels. Special cooling mats and blankets can also be offered.