With Memorial Day approaching, the hot weather season seems to be officially upon us. Please remember that if your dog is going through chemotherapy, they may be more sensitive to the heat (especially if they are taking Prednisone). Watch for early warning signs of overheating and be sure to give them access to shade and plenty of cool, clean water as a preventative measure. Also, limit exercise on hot days and break walks into a few short strolls down the block instead of one long walk when the risk of overheating is greater.
Signs of Overheating in Dogs
- Vigorous panting
- Bright red tongue and/or gums
- Tacky mucous membranes (especially gums)
- Thick saliva
- Wide eyes with a glassy look
- Lack of coordination or disorientation
- Lying down and unwilling or unable to get up
- Increased rectal temperature above 104 degrees
How to Cool an Overheated Dog
- Get your dog out of the sun immediately!
- Place the dog in cool, but not cold, water. Extreme cold can cause the blood vessels to constrict and actually cause the internal temperature to rise.
- Take the dog to air conditioning (even if it’s just in your car)
- Sponge his head, tummy and area between the legs with cool water or place wet washcloths strategically on his body – especially on foot pads and around the head.
- Wet his tongue.
- Turn a fan on him.
- Offer small amounts of cool water to drink.
- If your dog is having trouble breathing because of thick saliva, especially if they are a bracheocephalic breed such as a Bulldog, squirting lemon juice directly into the back of the throat can help break up the mucous quickly.
- Wipe some rubbing alcohol on the pads of feet as it evaporates quickly to aid in cooling.
- Take your dog to the emergency vet IMMEDIATELY if their temperature rises to 106, if you cannot bring their temperature down in a reasonable amount of time, or if you have any concerns at all about their health or wellbeing.
And, don’t forget the sunscreen!
If you have a light colored dog or one whose fur has thinned due to chemotherapy or radiation treatments, be sure to apply a baby-safe sunscreen to any at risk areas on their body, including the tips of ears. Dogs can get sunburned too, and can even develop skin cancer as a result of sun exposure, so be careful! Avalon Organics and Earth’s Best and Burt’s Bees all have natural sunscreens that you can try with your furkids. (My personal favorite is Earth’s Best but I have also used Burt’s Bees on my dog.)