Dogs and the Heat

Dogs’ sweat glands are at their paws. That’s why they pant…to cool down. Heat is a real problem for dogs – hot surfaces can damage their pads and heatstroke can lead to death (pretty quickly!)

We sweat to regulate our temperature. People sweat throughout the body, though emotionally-induced sweating is usually in the palms, armpits, soles, and forehead. But dogs only have sweat glands in their paws, also expeling heat by panting and from their nose.

On hot and humid days, it can get pretty difficult for dogs to stay cool. So next time when you are out walking your dog in the heat of the day, imagine yourself wearing a heavy coat, and can’t sweat!

Sharpei Cross

Other things to remember? Dogs (at least most) don’t wear shoes so make sure the asphalt (sidewalk and roads) isn’t too hot. Dog’s pads can get burned. Avoid hot surfaces (metal etc). Stay in the shade or walk in the grass. Dog pads are usually pretty tough but can soften after being in the water for a while (eg swimming) so watch out for hot asphalt after a long swim. Their pads are less able to withstand the heat.  

Another danger is heatstroke, which is serious and can cause death. Be on the lookout for signs of overheating. If your dog’s at 104° you need to take action..of course no one really carries around a thermometer on a walk/hike so some other things to look out for? Lethargy..not wanting to move. Hard panting. Dizziness or loss of consciousness. Dark gums. Press on the gums and if they don’t bounce back to a normal colour fairly quickly, that’s a sign.

If your dog is in danger of a heatstroke, immediately take him out of the sun. Put wet cloths on his body, especially around the neck, head, and paws. Do not force him to drink water. Do not use cold water as that constricts the blood vessels and overcooling / cooling too rapidly causes other problems. If you do have a thermometer (a good thing really to have in a dog’s first aid kit), check every few minutes and stop cooling the dog when his temperature is at 103.° Dry your dog completely to prevent overcooling. Take him to the vet immediately for a check.

It’s hot in Singapore year-round and obviously you can still take your dogs out for walks – early morning or late at night is more suited for long walks and quick pee breaks during the day is best to avoid over heating. And never leave your dog in the car or outside without shelter and access to water. Personally I don’t think dogs should be left outside anyway.


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