Summer's here and the heat is on. Keeping your dog cool and hydrated when temperatures start to skyrocket is essential to protecting your dog from heat stress and heat related illnesses. Before you and your dog head into the sun, here are a few ways to keep your dog safe in the heat.
Find the right amount of water for your dog
No matter the season, water is crucial to your dog’s health, but in the dog days of summer, it’s even more important. A dog’s body weight is almost 70% water, so losing just 5-10% of body water means your dog could suffer from severe dehydration.
So how much water does your dog need to drink each day? Dogs should drink almost an equal amount of water (in milliliters) for every calorie they consume. Based on your dog’s personalized feeding instructions and daily calorie requirements, you can easily find just how many milliliters of water your dog needs to drink each day. If you’d rather calculate their water intake based on their size, Dogster recommends that a healthy dog should drink ½ to 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day.
Keep in mind that if your dog is outside in the heat for an extended period of time, he should always have access to fresh drinking water and a shaded area to escape of the sun.
Maintain a good body condition
Dogs that are overweight can suffer more from high heat than dogs with an ideal body condition. Carrying more weight means more stress on a dog’s bones, joints, and muscles, as well as his respiratory system, which is how dogs regulate their temperature. The summertime heat and humidity only add to this stress – when an overweight dog gets too exasperated in the heat, it’s harder for him to cool off by panting. Exercise and a portion-controlled, balanced diet will help your dog maintain a good body condition and reduce his risk of heat stress. Haven't checked his body condition lately? Watch our video on how to conduct a quick and easy dog body condition exam from the comfort of your home.
If you have a brachycephalic dog breed, such as a Boxer, Pug or Bulldog, be aware that these dogs are especially prone to heat stress because of their “pushed in” face. The structure of their face affects their ability to take in air and efficiently pant to cool down, putting them at risk for overheating and respiratory distress. Keeping these breeds in an ideal body condition and avoiding excessive endurance activities is crucial for their heat safety.
Fuel during physical activity
If you're exercising your dog in the summer heat, be prepared to take extra steps to keep him hydrated. During exercise, give your dog small amounts of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Once activity has ended, don’t put a water bowl down in front of your dog just yet. Wait until he is calm and has stopped panting before you let him drink. An overly eager dog can swallow large amounts of water and air, which could lead to discomfort or stomach injury.