Dogs Suffer More Than You In the Heat: How to Keep Them Cool
They're covered in fur. Their bodies are already about 101 degrees. And they can't sweat out excess heat.
In other words: Dogs simply don't tolerate hot weather as well as their human housemates.
But Dr. Peter Falk of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association said people can take simple steps to making sure their pups get through the heat — including making sure they have plenty of cold, fresh water. He also said while dogs may like to exercise and run around, it's important that their humans monitor their activity to make sure they don't get overheated.
"If they're going to be exercising, we should make sure that it's the cool part of the day," he said. "It's better to skip it than to tempt fate with exercise."
A dog's fur can make the heat a safety hazard — as can its paws. Asphalt roads or sidewalks can get hot under the summer sun and burn the bottom of a dog's paw.
Falk said there are dog shoes to avoid that problem, but it may be best to just skip long walks on hot days.
A simple car ride with a dog can be dangerous, Falk said. Even a short duration in a car with the engine off and windows open can be risky.
The Point Pleasant Police Department posted a reminder on Facebook that leaving dogs in cars in inhumane conditions is against the law. The post points out that on a day where the temperature outside is 100 degrees, it can take just 15 minutes for the temperature in the car to rise to 140 degrees.
There are also certain steps owners should take if they think their dogs are suffering from heat-related health issues. Falk said it is important to not just dunk a dog in a tub of ice to cool it down — but to instead call a veterinarian. Falk said an owner can hose a dog down with cool water, or just wet the dog down on its neck, or under its arms and legs.
Signs of problems can include dogs seeming lethargic and panting. Taking a dog's temperature can also help with treatment, Falk said.
While dog owners may need to learn the warning signs of heat problems for dogs, Falk said veterinarians know the summer months will present unique challenges.
"We know that there are always things that at different times of the year, different holidays, different seasons. There's different holiday risks involved," he said. "But I'll tell you one thing, people are being better owners than they were in the past and have an awareness. We're seeing less (health issues,) but we're not seeing zero."
In addition to the heat, the Humane Society warns about the dangers of humidity to dogs.
"Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body," said Dr. Barry Kellogg. "If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels — very quickly."
The Humane Society also provides a recipe for peanut butter popsicles for dogs to help keep them cool, and information about creating a disaster plan for your pets if there's a power outage or other emergency.