With the weather heating up to record highs all over the place, it’s time for dog owners everywhere to brush up on whether or not their pup is a high-risk breed, how to recognize heatstroke in dogs, steps to take to prevent overheating and what activities are best for dogs during hot weather. It’s something that isn’t talked about enough, but overheating is dangerous, as it can very quickly lead to illness and even death. In order to make sure Angus Post readers are well informed we’ve developed a four-part Summer Dog Series. Read on to discover if your pup falls into one of the 3 highest risk categories for overheating, and for further info, check out the other parts of this series here:
Breeds that have the highest risk of overheating:
1. Brachycephalic breeds
As cute as smushyfaced dogs are, the shorter a dog’s snout it, the greater its risk of overheating. Dogs do not sweat through their skin as humans do, but rather they sweat through their paw pads (which being on hot ground can inhibit) and by panting to circulate air throughout their bodies to help them cool down. Dogs with shorter muzzles often suffer from breathing issues, and having breathing issues makes it much more difficult for them to properly intake and circulate cooling air. Pugs, boxers, bulldogs, Boston terriers, shih tzus, and chihuahuas, chow chows, Pekingese, lhasa apso, bull mastiffs, and English toy spaniels and Cavalier King Charles spaniel are some of the more common dogs to fall into this category.
2. Thick coated dogs
Different breeds have been bred to fair better in cold climates, and thus they do poorly in extreme heat, and must watched with extreme caution during the summer. Dog Time has a great reference list of dogs who are poorly suited for heat, and one for dogs who do well in the heat, which can help you choose a pet that suits your location, or help you know if your current dog is one that needs extra special attention during the summer months. If you have a thick coated dogs, such as a husky, Bernese mountain dog, Alaskan malamute or a Samoyed, it’s best to try to walk them outside of peak heat hours — so a morning and evening walk is your best course of action. Dogs’ fur does work like insulation, and thus keeps them cool in the summer in the same way it keeps them warmer in the winter, but it still means they get hotter faster than short haired breeds. You can try to get your dog more accustomed to the heat by taking them out for shorter periods mid-day and working your way up from a few minutes to an hour or more, just make sure you keep a close eye on them and take them indoors to cool off if they are overheating.
3. Black dogs
The color black appears the way it does because it absorbs all light (and heat!), unlike white and lighter colors that reflect it. This means that, just like black cars or black clothes, that the darker the dog, the hotter its fur will be. Black dogs’ fur can even get hot to the touch when they have been in the sun for too long! Though fur does work as insulation and provides cooling and UV protection, black dogs are still at a much higher risk of overheating quicker than dogs of other colors. Many pet owners report that even on dogs who are lighter colored with black spots, that you can feel the difference between hair colors, and that the black spots are hotter to the touch. If you have a darker colored dog, pay extra attention when you are out in the heat, and try to keep them out of the sun.
OTHER AT-RISK DOGS:
- Puppies and senior dogs
- Any dog with a history of heat stress
- Dogs who are overweight
- Dogs that are physically inactive
- Dogs with cardiovascular disease
- Dogs with respiratory problems
- Some prescription drugs may increase the risk – so ask your vet if this is a concern.
Now that you’ve determined whether or not your dog falls into one of the three highest-risk categories, make sure to find out how to recognize heat stroke in your dog with our article, Summer Dog Series Part II: Signs, Symptoms and Dangers of Dogs Overheating.