Dogs Feel the Heat Too
Cornwall ON – Six months ago, everyone was freezing and looking for ways to stay warm. In another six months it’s going to be the same, but right now, especially with highs next week in the 30s, everyone’s trying to keep cool.
We humans stay cool by wearing the minimum of clothes, maybe getting our hair cut, drinking lots of beer, or whatever, or by sitting under the air conditioner.
With the really hot weather upon us, it’s very tempting to shave our dogs too, so they will stay cool too. After all, who wants to wear a fur coat in the middle of summer?
However, DON’T SHAVE YOUR DOG, no matter how good an idea it seems. Groom your dog, certainly, so that he looks fit and trim, but on no account should his hair be cut too short.
Dogs have a different way of handling heat than we do, and it’s not really quite so good. Dogs don’t sweat, except between the pads of their feet, so they can’t cool down by having their sweat evaporate, as we can. Instead, a dog who is too hot will pant, his tongue sticking out of his mouth, and try to cool off that way.
But dogs have a natural defence against too much heat that we don’t. It’s called insulation, and it works just like insulation in a house. The more you have, the warmer you stay in winter, and the cooler in summer.
A dog’s insulation is his coat, and like house insulation, it works both ways. It keeps him warm in winter, but more importantly, it keeps the heat out in summer. If you take away this natural insulation by grooming him too close, then he’s going to get too hot, and worse yet, runs the risk of heat stroke. Just because dark dog fur might feel hot to us when the dog’s in the sun, it doesn’t mean the heat’s penetrating down to the dog himself.
Heat stroke in humans is a medical emergency. In a dog, it is usually life-threatening and requires immediate treatment by a vet. Symptoms include excessive panting, vomiting, diarrhoea, collapse, difficulty breathing, and a body temperature of 42 to 43 degrees.
To avoid heat stroke in your dog, avoid strenuous activity when it’s really hot, make sure the dog has some shade, and lots of water to drink. Above all, let him keep his coat at its natural length, because that’s how it was designed.
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