Dog Days of Summer

The summer months are finally here! It’s officially time for fun in the sun. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when our furry companions are at risk for heat stroke.


Did you know that dogs don’t sweat? At least not the same way humans do. They expel heat through the pads of their paws and by panting. Unfortunately, panting is not always enough when it is extremely hot and humid.

Hyperthermia, or heat stroke, is an elevation of body temperature. This is a severe and life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention in both humans and dogs alike. Once a dog’s body temperature reaches 106 degrees, damage to the body and organs may be irreversible.

Learn how to recognize the signs of heat stroke and prevent it from happening to your dog.

What to watch for:

vigorous panting

red/dark pink gums

tacky/dry mucous membranes (specifically the gums)

lethargy, unwillingness to get up


disorientation, staggering




How to prevent heat stroke:
1. NEVER leave your dog in the car on hot days. We understand pets are part of the family and that they often accompany us on various outings. No matter how well we plan ahead, it seems we always have to run a quick errand or two along the way. But remember, even if it doesn’t seem that hot, the internal temperature of a car can reach well above 100 degrees within minutes. If you have to bring Fido along for the ride, family members should stay with the car and the dogs, keeping doors and windows open. If you are alone, the above scenario isn’t possible. Get creative! Use the drive-thru. This is an easy option at many restaurants, banks, and pharmacies. Shop in pet-friendly stores. Most pet stores allow pets, and they often carry drinks and snacks if you are in a hurry.
2. Always provide fresh, cool, easily accessible water to keep your dog well hydrated.
3. Steer clear of long walks and prolonged exposure to the sun. If you want to exercise your dog, do so in the morning when the temperatures are at their lowest.
4. Use a sprinkler or doggie pool when out in the yard (of course, do not leave pets unattended in the pool).
5. Grooming can also play a part in summer health. If your dog has long or thick fur, talk to your groomer about the coolest summer cut.
6. For animals that are indoors only, be sure to use air conditioning or cooling fans. Access to the basement often provides a naturally cool place to retreat from the summer heat.
What to do if you suspect heat stroke:

1. Move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away.
2. Place wet rags or washcloths on the foot pads and around the head, but replace them frequently as they warm up. DO NOT use ice or ice water! Over-cooling can cause hypothermia, introducing a host of new problems.
3. Offer your dog cool water. Try not to let your dog drink excessive amounts at a time.
4. Call or visit your vet right away. 


These tips can help keep your pets cool and happy. Happy Summer!