Buddy & Porky’s Pet Health: Heat and Dogs

By the Oswego County Humane Society

Dear Porky & Buddy,

When I got home yesterday, it was 84 degrees and when I let my dog Sammy out for a quick run around the yard, I noticed that she ran around for a few minutes than came back panting and acting like she didn’t want to do anything. I offered her some water but she wouldn’t take any, so I just let her back in and put her in an air conditioned room and kept an eye on her. She seemed to be feeling better after an hour or so, but I am wondering whether I did the right thing. Is it possible that the heat affected her that quickly?


Dear Jo,

Summer can be hard on dogs that are outdoors all day and dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors are most susceptible to heat related illnesses. But even an indoor dog can raise its body temperature if it goes outside for a few minutes, and indoor dogs can get heat stroke. Dogs do not sweat. The only way they have of expelling heat is through their pads and through their tongue. So a dog that goes outside and runs around the yard for just a few minutes can dramatically increase its body temperature.

The symptoms of heat stress in a dog include disorientation, excessive panting and not wanting to eat or drink. Although it needs water, it refuses to drink. If you sense that your dog is experiencing heat stress, you need to step in and help it cool down. Putting it next to a fan or air conditioner can help. Another effective method is to put the dog in a bathtub with lukewarm water and then slowly add cool water. Because the heat is expelled through the foot pads, you only need a few inches of water in the tub.

It’s extremely important though that you start with lukewarm water and then cool the water gradually. When a pet’s body temperature increases, the blood flow to the body increases as well. If you pour cold water on a pet’s body, the capillaries are going to instantly constrict, which can cause a potentially life-threatening blood clot. So, do not dump cool water on your pet.

If possible, keep your dog in an air conditioned house during the hottest weather. If that isn’t possible, you can try putting your dog in the garage with air conditioning or with open windows and a fan to allow some circulation. Remove anything from your garage that might be dangerous to a dog, such as mouse bait, antifreeze, fertilizer, or used motor oil.

If you are unable to keep a dog in the garage, keep her fenced in a shady area of the yard with access to a dog house that will provide even more shade. Outdoor fans or misters can help keep her cool in hot weather. Make sure she has plenty of water.

Obviously, keeping a dog cool in hot weather can take some forethought and planning ahead–just as humans need to plan ahead to make sure they are safe in really hot weather. But remember this . . . it’s not snowing!

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email:[email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org.