As we approach the warmer months in Miami remember hot weather can cause heat stroke and even death if you do not use common sense. An animal going into heat stroke may collapse or appear very depressed. It may be panting frantically. The gums may be bright red. At any sign of heat stroke, use a fan to cool the air and wet the animal down with lukewarm water (do not use cold water, as the sudden temperature change can shock their system and lead to more harm) and call your local veterinarian if you suspect overheating.
Be sure your animals have access to shade (it’s twenty degrees cooler than in direct sunlight) and plenty of fresh cool water. If possible, freeze a large block of ice and place it in your dog’s water dish to help keep water cool throughout the day. If traveling with your dog, take water with you in a dog thermos with an attached drinking bowl.
Long haired dogs bred for colder climates, such as Huskies, Golden Retrievers and St. Bernards need regular brushing in hot weather to help thin out their undercoat of fur. You can clip long haired coats for the warmer months but do not shave as this leaves the skin prone to sunburn.
Commercial dry pet food creates internal heat. The combination of hot weather and dry food can contribute to a heat overload. If you have not done it before, hot weather is the time for sure to introduce more moisture into your dog’s diet. That means simple fresh things like, green beans, spinach, broccoli and other green vegetables and fruits that are approved for dogs like, apples (not the core or seeds), blueberries, watermelon (without seeds) and strawberries. Ideally, feed your dog a home prepared diet.
Do not run or exercise your dog in blazing heat. Dogs don’t sweat; it is easy for them to develop a heat overload that can lead to a heat stroke. Remember, knowing your dog’s threshold for heat can save his or her life. If you have a brachycephalic dog such as a bulldog or pugs avoid taking them out for very long in the summer as they can’t withstand the heat the same way other four legged companions can.
Most importantly do not leave your dog in hot cars, even if the weather does not appear to be sizzling hot outside. Did you know on an 85 degree day it takes only 10 minutes for the interior of your parked car to climb to 102 degrees with the windows up and the car turned off. Leaving windows partially open doesn’t drop the temperature inside the vehicle.
Adjust your schedule slightly to better accommodate your furry family member in the warmer months and please remember to remind anyone who cares for your pet while you are away of the dangers of dogs getting overheated.