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.

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