As temperatures begin to soar each summer, we make a few changes to ready ourselves for the warmer weather: a new wardrobe, summer sheets, air conditioning, cold-brewed coffee…
For our dogs it’s not so simple, and summer can be a distressing and difficult time if we don’t take steps to help our four-legged friends combat the heat.
Dogs are unable to deal with heat in the same ways as their human counterparts. While we are covered top-to-toe in sweat glands for when temperatures rise, our dogs produce sweat from their merocrine glands, which are found in areas not covered by fur, such as the nose and paw pads. Being located only in a few areas on a dog’s body, they do little to help regulate body heat.
Biological and breed-specific factors can also play a major part in heat tolerance for individual dogs. Dogs with shorter or thinner coats will fare better than the longer or thicker-haired Siberian Huskies or Border Collies, for example. This doesn’t necessarily mean a quick trip to the dog groomer will be a quick and easy fix. Longer coats can also offer vital sun protection or insulation they rely upon. A reputable dog groomer will be able to advise accordingly on each breed.
Muzzle length can also play a major role in heat tolerance, with longer-nosed dogs such as the greyhound being more efficient at temperature control by being able to move more cooling air through their muzzle with each pant. Conversely, shorter-nosed or brachycephalic breeds are much less suited to regulating their temperature, on account of their often-restricted airways.
Other individual factors such as age, health and weight can also impact a dog’s comfort in the heat.
There are many warning signs to look out for in a dehydrated or heat-exhausted dog, many of which are the same or similar in humans. Some of these include:
Thankfully, there are several steps we can take to help keep our dogs from feeling the heat to dangerous levels, such as: