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All conscientious dog owners know not to walk their dogs in the height of the midday sun during the summer months of the year, and many dog owners deliberately change their routines when the weather hots up to ensure that their dogs get the walks and exercise they need during the cooler parts of the day.
Dog owners need to take special care during the summer to prevent heatstroke from developing in their dogs, and this is a condition that can come on quickly, and can be hard to reverse once it has begun. Heatstroke can pose a real threat to your dog’s health, and if you are unable to intervene and cool your dog down safely and effectively, it can even prove fatal.
You can learn more about identifying the early symptoms of heatstroke in dogs before the condition becomes acute and while you still have the best chance of reversing it within this guide – and in this article, we will share five things that can actually increase your dog’s risk of heatstroke, along with steps you can take to reduce the threat.
Read on to learn more about five things that can increase the risk of your dog developing heatstroke.
First of all, heatstroke is a risk for all dogs during the summer months, but the risks are higher for certain types of dogs than others. Dogs largely rely on panting and drinking water to stay cool, and they don’t sweat like we do. Dogs with brachycephalic faces such as the French Bulldog have increased risk factors for heatstroke, as such dogs have shorter than normal muzzles and often, narrower nostrils too.
This affects the dog’s ability to get enough oxygen when panting hard, and often manifests in brachycephalic dogs as laboured, noisy or whistling breathing even when at rest, and a tendency to snore when asleep.
Brachycephalic dogs tend to be less tolerant of the heat and more prone to developing heatstroke very quickly than dogs with longer muzzles, and so extreme care needs to be taken of such dogs in hot weather.
Carrying too much excess weight can have a large and wide-ranging impact on your dog’s general health, resulting in all manner of potential problems ranging from the development or worsening of joint conditions like arthritis, to weakening of the heart and elevated risk factors for conditions like diabetes.
Being overweight or obese also reduces your dog’s tolerance for heat, making it easier for them to overheat and more likely to face problems getting enough air to cool down when they do. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight and working to slim them down effectively if they’ve started piling on the pounds can help to reduce the risks of heatstroke in the summer months of the year.
Dogs need shade, fresh air and water to be able to regulate their body temperature on their own, but there are a range of things that can impact upon your dog’s ability to do so, which in turn, increases their risk of heatstroke.
Sometimes, dogs that have very thick or long coats that are clipped off in summer to help to keep them cool are at higher risk of heatstroke after they have been clipped than before, which means that this is not always a good idea.
Dogs that have very thick coats are apt to suffer in the summer, but those coats also provide some insulation against the heat too – and your dog’s body is used to regulating its temperature factoring in the coat itself.
When you clip a dog and they suddenly go from very furry to having very little coat, it takes time for their body to adjust to this, and in the interim, their ability to moderate their own temperature and know how to cool down might be less effective.
Proceed with caution if you intend to clip your dog in the summer, and don’t wait until the hottest days to do so.
Additionally, environmental factors can affect your dog’s ability to regulate their own temperature too. When a dog starts to get too hot, the look for ways to cool down – such as moving into shade, or seeking out water. If your dog cannot get out of the sun, such as if they are shut out in the garden, or worse, trapped in a hot car or caravan – or if they do not have free access to water – their chances of overheating are much higher.
The very hot days of summer often seem to happen overnight without a gradual lead-up, and most dogs and people suffer to some extent until our bodies begin to adjust.
However, if you have recently moved from, say, the North of Scotland to the South Coast with your dog, or head off to the South of France on holiday with your dog where the weather is hotter, the shock that this causes can increase the risk of heatstroke until your dog begins to adjust, so bear this in mind.
Finally, stress and anxiety can increase your dog’s risk of heatstroke too, and not all dog owners realise this. A dog that is stressed or anxious is likely to be het up, fidgety and unhappy, and panting, pacing, and other activities that dogs commonly display when stressed can work with the additional heat to increase the risk of heatstroke.
Bear this in mind, particularly if your dog tends to get anxious when left alone, and ensure that they are cool enough and have access to plenty of water.
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