5 ways to protect your dog in a heat wave

Humans aren't alone in suffering from mid-summer heat. Take a look at the best ways to keep your pet cool and how to tell if it's time to take them to the vet.

Hydration, shade and cool walking surfaces key to keeping dogs happy

People have difficulty keeping cool in extreme heat, but dogs have a harder time moderating their body temperatures when it is hot out. (iStock)

Humans aren't alone in suffering from mid-summer heat. If it's bad for us, it's worse for them: dogs have to pant all the extra heat out. 

We asked Nicholas Gilman, executive director at the Montreal SPCA, to give us some tips on how to keep dogs cool in a heat wave and how to tell if it's time to take it to the vet. 

  1. Keep your animal indoors. Dogs aren't as adaptable to heat as humans are, and have to pant to get rid of the extra heat, which isn't as effective as sweating. 
  2. Do not take your dog with you for a drive, especially if you plan on leaving it in your parked car: leaving the windows open will not ensure the animal is okay. 
  3. Avoid dark pavement and sidewalks for extended periods of time when taking your dog for a walk. Grassy areas are always preferable for a dog's paws, which can be badly burned long before you notice your pet licking its paws. 
  4. Keep your dog hydrated, and make sure it always has access to water. Panting dogs become dehydrated very quickly.
  5. In cases of extreme heat, you can put your dog into the tub, pour cool water on its body or use ice packs to provoke a drop in body temperature.
Hyperthermia is what occurs when a dog overheats. Here's how you can tell if your dog's temperature is climbing into the danger zone.
  • Panting: this indicates heat-related issues, not a critical condition. You should watch your dog to make sure the situation doesn't get worse. 
  • Deep panting and an incapacity to stand up or walk. At this point, your dog will want to just sag onto the ground, or find a cool spot to lie down and pant. 
  • Your dog is no longer responsive. It will pass out periodically, and feel cold and clammy.
  • Your dog's temperature is above 38.8C (measure it with a baby thermometer). 
Remember, it's better to err on the side of caution and take your dog to the vet if you're unsure about its condition. Owners should stay vigilant, especially during a heat wave.