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Summer Heat Safety for the Active Outdoor Dog

Heat stroke and heat-related injuries in dogs can be common in the hot summer months. Heat stroke can be very dangerous for your pet and even deadly.
Certain risk factors will increase the chance of a heat stroke event occurring, such as:
• Duration of time: shorter walks will have a lower risk compared to longer walks.
• Type of work: a dog running in hot weather is at a greater risk than a dog laying down.
• Type of climate: including temperature, humidity and airflow.
• Condition and breed of dog: overweight dogs or brachycephalics (pugs, Boston terriers, French bulldogs, English bulldogs etc.) will have a more difficult time regulating their body temperature by panting. It is always best to have a gradual introduction to exercise to gain conditioning.
Environmental factors that pose the biggest threat are:
• temperature
• radiant heat (infrared light from the sun)
• humidity
• airflow
Minimizing exposure to these factors is key to reducing risk of heat stroke or heat injuries. Be proactive to provide shade, fresh water and keeping pets calm (i.e. not allowing them to over-exert themselves and providing breaks while out on the trails).
Be prepared with a folding water bowl and fresh water, or knowing where to find fresh water sources; and having clothing or towels to wet and provide external cooling.
DO NOT dunk an over-heated dog in cold water, as this can cause shock and vasoconstriction of peripheral blood vessels. Cooling needs to occur slowly. Place a t-shirt or towel that is damp/wet under their belly and arm pit area, while providing fans or shade to help with increased cooling. Dehydration is a critical concern and fluid replacement is essential. Many pets may not want to drink if a heat injury has occurred and may require IV fluids.
If you think your pet is experiencing a heat injury or heat stroke, please contact us at GVH or 604-898-9089 immediately for care.
Play safe and have fun this summer!
– Dr. Alexandra Kirkham


Garibaldi Veterinary Hospital