Can't Stand the Texas Heat? Neither Can your Dog

NOT A MATTER OF PRIDE

Okay, this tip is pretty straightforward and probably the first one everyone thinks about. Water, water, water. Your dog should always have access to fresh, clean water, and lots of it, especially during a Texas summer. You can check if your dog is dehydrated with a simple test. Pinch a bit of their skin between their shoulder blades and pull it up. Release it and watch how quickly it bounces back into place. A hydrated dog's skin is elastic and snaps right back. A dehydrated dog's skin will seem to ooze back into place.

Whenever your dog leaves the house, bring a few accessories with you to help them stay cool.

●      A portable water bowl and extra water to fill it

●      A spray bottle or cooler with wet towels to soak their bodies, pay special attention to target areas like the head/neck, chest, and groin

●      Cooling pads or ice packs to line their bed or crate

●      Cooling vests and bandanas, fashionable and functional

●      Shoes, seems silly, but their paws burn easily on hot pavement

90º days are a problem for you and your dog. Seriously.

While you may laugh at those who can't stand the heat, what about your poor fur baby? Their bodies handle heat differently than ours, and you cannot assume "they'll be fine." That one assumption could be deadly. All dogs are at risk of heatstroke during the steamy days of summer. Older dogs, overweight dogs, working dogs, big dogs, brachycephalic dogs, dogs with dark fur, dogs with thick fur, dogs on a walk, dogs that are just outside hangin' out. It is imperative for your dog's well-being that you understand and take notice when they are overheating.

1. Know Your Dog

Some dogs hate the heat and will tell you straight away. They want in, they don't want to walk anymore, they want to be in the shade. Listen to your pup.

Excessive panting, salivating, and listlessness can easily progress to muscle spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of muscle control, collapse, and seizures. Nobody wants this to progress, so stop it at the first! If your dog is panting or has labored breathing, it's time to cool down. Stop their activities, and head inside.

Other dogs, though, love the sun. Or love their walk, or their game, or basking. It doesn't matter. You need to prioritize their health over their happiness. Dogs with long, thick, or dark fur are more likely to overheat. Brachycephalic dogs, aka short-nosed dogs, like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Shih Tzus and more have shortened snouts and greater amounts of soft tissue in their airways. These dogs are also more susceptible to overheating. Just like you would a child, feel their forehead, ears, and even their nose. If these are warm, head inside. Your pup may not want to, but they'll thank you for it.

2. Check the Weather

It's not only the temperature, it's the humidity. 35% humidity is enough to impact a dog's ability to thermoregulate, and 80% negates their evaporative losses completely. So if it's 75º, sunny, and 87% humidity...that's right, head inside.

Being aware of the environment and how it affects your dog is crucial. While it may feel 10-15º cooler in the shade, it's not. Exposure to direct sunlight usually feels more intense because your body absorbs infrared radiation, making you feel hotter. When sunlight is blocked by something like an umbrella or large tree, it feels cooler. But the temperature on the weather channel is correct. It is the actual air temperature, and it's the same whether you're in the sun or shade. What this means is you should never let your dog sit outside on a 90º day because "it's cooler in the shade". Guess what? It isn't. It's still 90º.

Schedule your dog's outside time for first thing in the morning or at night when the sun has gone down and temperatures start to cool. If the temperature is over the mid 70s, it's worth reducing the amount of time your dog is outside exposed to the elements.

3. Water and Accessories are a Dog's Best Friends

Okay, this tip is pretty straightforward and probably the first one everyone thinks about. Water, water, water. Your dog should always have access to fresh, clean water, and lots of it, especially during a Texas summer. You can check if your dog is dehydrated with a simple test. Pinch a bit of their skin between their shoulder blades and pull it up. Release it and watch how quickly it bounces back into place. A hydrated dog's skin is elastic and snaps right back. A dehydrated dog's skin will seem to ooze back into place.

Whenever your dog leaves the house, bring a few accessories with you to help them stay cool.

●      A portable water bowl and extra water to fill it

●      A spray bottle or cooler with wet towels to soak their bodies, pay special attention to target areas like the head/neck, chest, and groin

●      Cooling pads or ice packs to line their bed or crate

●      Cooling vests and bandanas, fashionable and functional

●      Shoes, seems silly, but their paws burn easily on hot pavement

4. Never! leave your dog in the car.    

There is no reason. No, "I'll be back in 5 minutes." Be honest with yourself and save your dog's life. Do not put your convenience above their safety. Come back to the store later, call your friend instead of running in to chat, whatever you do, do not leave them in the car. Even on a 75º day, the temperature in a closed car can reach 120º. Cracked windows and parking in the shade do little to prevent a car from becoming overheated. Hot air is trapped inside right along with your dog. There is no excuse. Bring them in with you, or bring them home.

The best thing you can do for your dog is to pay attention and plan accordingly. Be willing to put your dog's health and safety above your own wants and convenience. Know when your dog is too hot, know when they need to be kept inside, and know how to cool them down when you're out and about. Knowledge is power. Share with your friends, tell your family. Heat is no joke, and every dog owner should be aware of the consequences of ignorance. Save a life, keep your dog cool.

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