Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hot Weather, Water, and Dogs

Where I live the heat of summer is just setting in. A friend tells me that this past week she saw a dog left in a car with the windows just cracked open. Some people apparently still do not realize how quickly they can do permanent damage to their dog's health by leaving them in a vehicle during warm weather.

 One study I found showed that on average, even with car windows cracked open, the interior of a car is 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer inside than the outside temperature. That means that by the time it is just 70F (21C) outside it will be 90F(32C) inside the vehicle.The only way a dog has to cool off is by panting - a dog cannot sweat like people do. Dogs also overheat faster than people do due to their inability to sweat.

As a dog overheats his rapid panting causes him to become dehydrated. As a dog becomes dehydrated his blood thickens and his organs -- hearts, lungs, even brain -- become damaged.

 Even if a dog survives this overheating and dehydration, his health can be negatively affected for the rest of his life. Organ damage is permanent.

 Which also points out the importance of keeping your dog hydrated -- providing enough clean water -- at all times in warm weather. It is also important to make sure that your dog is drinking. Dogs playing, working, or otherwise being active in warm weather are more prone to dehydration; it is important to make sure a dog takes regular breaks and drinks.

It is also possible to provide an on-demand water spout for your dog if your dog is a heavy drinker, if you have trouble remembering to fill the water bowl, or if your dog prefers fresh water.

Swimming or bathing in cool water can also help lower a dog's body temperature -- in order for this to work the water has to be cooler than the dog. Some people find that setting up a child's size pool and filling it with cool water is a good way to provide a wading pool for dogs. Others are able to take their dogs swimming in lakes, rivers, oceans, ponds, or creeks. Even setting up a sprinkler can provide a water source that helps cool your dog down.

Remember, dogs always need clean, fresh water. In heat water can that much more quickly make the difference between life and death.

And please, do not leave your dog in a car without the air conditioning running. Your friend may enjoy a car ride but they will not enjoy overheating in a parked car...in fact, they may never recover.


  1. It's scary just how dangerous that can be! It seems like a simple thing until you think about it...of COURSE the car will be hot! But correlating that to hurting one's dog is apparently a big step. I do hope more people catch on!

    1. I think you've got a good point Jen - people don't stop and think about it - particularly if they think they will just be 'running in for a minute' not realizing that 'a minute' easily turns into five, ten or more minutes. Cars heat up quickly.
      Thanks for stopping in!

  2. Great info, I cant imagine how anyone could leave their dog in a car on a hot day. We are extra careful regarding heat because of our flat faced babies

    urban hounds

    1. Yes, our dear short faced doggy friends are even quicker to overheat, have breathing problems, and suffer in the heat. Thanks for reminding everyone to take special care of their flatter faced pups!

  3. What a great post! Sometimes people just don't think!

    1. Thanks Bassetmomma! It is true - if we don't stop to think about what we are doing we can make some painful mistakes. I'm a big believer in reminders :-)

  4. Thanks for the info!!!! I was ALWAYS changing my dog's water 3-4 times a day!!! Never took her with me on those oh so hot days..left her home with the ac on! loved my puppy:)

    1. You were a good care giver :-) Some lucky pup is going to find a home with you again someday....

  5. Hi: Tried to leave this comment earlier, failed! So, redoing...

    Great, important post.

    My vet frequently deals with severely overheated dogs and wishes more people were sensitive to this problem. He points out that dogs don't necessarily realize they are overheating - they will lie in the sun too long, if left to their own devices, we have to keep an eye on them.

    If a heat emergency does occur, cooling the dog down pronto is critical - whether with a hose or a cool body of water - and then calling your vet.

    Another point he has made is to be careful about exercising with dogs on hot days - do it in the morning or evening, not in the middle of the day. 85 degrees F is my cutoff for young dogs, lower for seniors.

    Dogs love frozen treats - there are toys you can buy that immerse and freeze. But even simpler is to fill their bowls with ice water and/or ice cubes. My dogs love to crunch on ice cubes and even play with them (it can get a little sloppy). I also give them frozen fruits and veggies as a treat - for example, half a frozen banana. Or a couple spoonfuls of cold smoothie. As always, avoid grapes, onions, and garlic as they are toxic for dogs.

    I have a big blowup pool I set up on hot days for me and the dogs - it is nice because it is pretty big. But blowup has the down side of being not so great with young dogs - mine has punctures from a puppy bite. And, there's always the handy hose to cool them off on a hot day.

    Summer is a great time to enjoy time outdoors with our dogs, but it is so important to keep them cool - they prefer temps cooler than we do, so if you are hot, they are surely feeling it even more.


    1. Thanks for the great ideas and info Kathy!
      My dogs love frozen carrots -- the result of a malfunctioning refrigerator rather than careful design on my part :-)

      I'm sure they'd be happy to try any food I freeze and bananas sound like a great idea!