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The dog and the heat: adapt, prevent and rescue

Heat and dog: how to adapt? Is your dog in the team of dogs that are most sensitive to heat? How to detect heat stroke and how to react?
Team Jagger.Lewis
Date of publication
March 20, 2023
All dogs are sensitive to high temperatures and if heatstroke is not treated in time, it can be fatal. However, some are more vulnerable than others; several factors come into play to determine their sensitivity. Heat sensitivity can vary greatly from dog to dog based on different criteria. Is my dog sensitive to heat?
The age

Older dogs and puppies are more sensitive to heat than healthy adult dogs. Older dogs may have health conditions that make their thermoregulation less effective, while puppies have not yet developed their thermoregulation system. It is essential to keep a close eye on elderly dogs and puppies when exposed to heat and to provide them with a cool and comfortable environment. Even more so, if your companion has respiratory or cardiac problems.

The weight

Overweight or obese dogs are more sensitive to heat because their extra body mass makes it more difficult to dissipate heat. Overweight dogs also tend to be less active and may have breathing problems, making their thermoregulation less effective. It is therefore important to monitor your dog's weight and to provide him with a balanced and adapted diet.

bouledogue anglais

Physical condition and heat sensitivity

A dog that is in good physical condition will generally be better prepared to handle the heat than one that is sedentary. Active dogs develop better blood flow and a better ability to dissipate heat. However, even physically fit dogs can be prone to overheating during strenuous exercise in hot weather.

The hair

Your dog's coat color can also play a role in how sensitive they are to heat. Dark-haired dogs, such as black Labradors or German shepherds, absorb more of the sun's heat than light-haired dogs, which can increase their body temperature. It is therefore important to take extra care for dark-haired dogs when exposed to heat.
Dogs with thick, double coats, like huskies and malamutes, are also more sensitive to heat because of their coats that are designed to protect them from the cold.

The snout

The dog mainly evacuates heat through breathing, so a poor respiratory system does not make it easy for him. This is the case with brachycephalic dogs, more commonly known as “crushed snouts”. If your dog is part of the Pug, Pekingese, Boxer or Bulldog clan, you must be extra vigilant.

chow chow
Based on a British study of 905,543 dogs, here are the 10 dog breeds that are most sensitive to heat:
  1. The ChowChow

  2. The English Bulldog

  3. The French Bulldog

  4. The Boxer

  5. The Dogue of Bordeaux

  6. The Greyhound

  7. Cavalier King Charles

  8. The Pug

  9. The Springer Spaniel

  10. The Golden Retriever

Heat and dog: how to adapt?
The importance of hydration

The dog should consume on average between 50 and 70 ml of water per kilo per day. But when temperatures are high, like humans, they need to almost double their consumption to stay in shape.

Here's how to help:

  • Make sure his water bowl is filled throughout the day.

  • Change the water regularly so that it is fresh and clean.

  • Have several bowls in your home: it will be easier for him to drink.

  • Balance your daily diet with pâté or jelly, which is richer in water. If your dog is not used to wet food, mix well with his kibble to avoid digestive problems.

  • Make the water bowl more appetizing by adding a little bit of meat or tuna juice, for example.

  • Give him a dog ice cream (discover our homemade ice cream recipes here).

  • Share your water-rich foods with your dog: cooked zucchini, cucumber, watermelon... (Attention, if you are in doubt about a food, Consult the list of ingredients that are toxic to your dog and to be sure to please him, consult The list of ingredients that are good for your companion.)

Adapt your outings

As for us, bipeds, we must avoid outings during hot hours - between 12 pm and 4 pm. Of course, regardless of the weather, the dog must go outside, whether to do its needs but also for its mental balance and the expenditure of its physical energy. Here's how to adapt:

  • Change your habits and avoid the presence of the sun as much as possible: enjoy walks in the morning or very late.

  • Limit efforts: avoid physical exercise with the dog and prefer quiet walks.

  • Always remember to bring a water bottle suitable for animals with you or a bottle of fresh water with a portable bowl.

  • Choose places with shade such as the forest: your dog should be able to take a break under a tree if he feels the need.

  • If your dog likes to swim, don't hesitate to take him out for a swim. Even a small pool to splash around will do him a lot of good!

    Refresh it regularly

    Even if he stays quietly at home, the dog can quickly suffer from the heat.

    • Never leave your dog in a parked car, even with the windows open, as temperatures can rise quickly.
    • Watch carefully for dogs that are at risk, such as puppies, older dogs, dogs that are overweight, or those with respiratory problems.

    • Use cooling accessories, such as rugs, vests, or cooling bandanas to help regulate your dog's temperature.

    Heat stroke: how to detect it? How to react?

    Heat stroke is a potentially fatal medical emergency for dogs. It occurs when a dog's body temperature rises uncontrollably and exceeds its ability to cool itself.

    The symptoms of heatstroke need to be identified early and steps taken to prevent and treat this condition. As soon as his body temperature exceeds 38-39°, the dog is in danger.

    While some breeds are more or less resistant to heat, the symptoms of heatstroke are the same for everyone and the outcome can be fatal if the animal is not taken care of in time.

    Unlike humans, you won't see drops of perspiration under their armpits, dogs only sweat through their pads and evacuate heat through their breathing.

    Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs can vary depending on the severity of the situation, but generally include the following signs:
    • Excessive and rapid panting
    • Abundant salivation
    • Bright red or bluish gums and tongue
    • Weakness, tremors, or impaired coordination
    • Vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes with blood
    • Fast and irregular heartbeat
    • Restlessness, confusion, or lethargy
    • Seizures, coma, or unconsciousness

    How to react?
    • Move your dog to a cool, shaded area immediately.
    • Give him fresh water to drink, but don't force him to drink if he doesn't want to.
    • Chill your dog gradually by using lukewarm water (not ice) to moisten his coat, especially around the head, neck and belly. Avoid immersing it completely in cold water as this may cause thermal shock.
    • Use a fan to make it easier for water to evaporate and speed up cooling.
    • Watch your dog's breathing and behavior carefully.
    • Always stay close to him to watch him
    • Contact a veterinarian urgently! Explain the situation. Follow the instructions of the health professional and go to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible for a thorough examination and further treatment if needed.

    Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency for dogs and can be prevented by taking appropriate preventative measures. By knowing the symptoms of heatstroke and learning how to respond quickly when needed, you can help keep your dog safe and healthy on hot days. Remember that prevention is the key to protecting your furry friend from the dangers of heat.

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