Signs That Your Dog is Too Hot

It’s really hot in Atlanta. Our pets don’t exactly sweat like we do, so they can overheat very quickly. Their main method of cooling down is by panting. Certain breeds with flattened noses have special difficulty breathing to cool off. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of what your dog is experiencing and to be prepared to take care of him immediately if he is overcome by the heat. 

Dehydration happens when your dog expels more water than he takes in, not only from urinating, but also from breathing and panting. Dogs with dark coats, or those who are obese, elderly or who have kidney problems also dehydrate faster.

Know the Signs of Dehydration:

  • Panting
  • Sunken eyes, sunken features
  • Dry nose
  • Dry heaving or vomiting
  • No appetite
  • Dry, sticky gums and thick saliva
  • Skin doesn’t snap back into place easily if pulled

Dehydration can quickly lead to heatstroke and death. Make sure your dog has plenty of clean, cool water available all the time, even at home. Don’t leave your dog in a car even for a short time, and don’t take him outside in midday sun during the intensity of summer heat. If you must be out, make sure his feet are not on hot surfaces. 

His fur is a natural heat shield, so shaving your dog would only make the heat worse for him. Consider getting a floor fan to help your dog ‘chill out’ at home, and a cooling vest for the outdoors. Its outer layer reflects heat, while a water-soaked inner layer keeps your dog cool through a mesh system. And yes, there are cooling boots, too. 

Know the Signs of Heatstroke or Heat Stress:

  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Panting frantically – desperate
  • Drooling – can no longer regulate temperature
  • Bright red gums and tongue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Incoordination, stumbling
  • Tremors, Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

When dehydration advances to heatstroke, death can occur within the hour. Immediately get your dog into the shade with lots of air, water and rest, and call the emergency vet for care directions, which usually involves pouring water over your dog or putting wet towels over his body to try to gently bring down his temperature as you are driving him to the emergency clinic. Don’t use ice. It is too drastic of a temperature change, that could cause shock. Cooling your pet with wet towels or plain water before getting to the clinic can increase the chances of survival by 50% to 80%.

Increasing heat in the South challenges us to find ways to keep ourselves and our pets safe. If your A/C breaks down at home, also remember to look for signs of dehydration, provide lots of fresh water, an ice cube or a little frozen watermelon to chew on, a nice spot in front of the floor fan, a wet towel to lay on, or a refreshing hose bath outside as you wait for repairs. If you need to  go to another location for the duration, please take your dog with you or board him somewhere where he can stay cool. Our pets depend on us to keep them safe and happy.

Heron’s Crossing provides end-of-life care for pets in the Metro Atlanta area. In-home appointments with compassionate vets are available. If you’d prefer a home-like setting away from your home, our Decatur office is also available by appointment.