While it is easy to control your dog’ environment when you are at home, it can be more difficult if you are at work or out and about. If it is hot your dog can quickly overheat and if you are not home, you won’t be able to help them.
That’s why we have created this guide that will give you all the information you need to know about keeping a dog cool while you are at work. If you simply let your dog overheat it can lead to a whole raft of health complications and may possibly even lead to death in extreme circumstances. Before we dive into methods to keep your canine companion cool, let’s look at some factors that can increase their chance of overheating.
Their Age & Health Condition
Both older dogs and young puppies are far more likely to feel the effects of heat, so it is important to keep them cool. Additionally, if a dog has any adverse health conditions they can also be more likely to suffer in the heat (many elderly dogs have health complications).
Healthy dogs in the prime of their life are better at regulating their temperature, so they are less likely to overheat. However, it is just as important to keep a healthy dog cool in hot weather.
Breed & Type of Coat
Some breeds are just better at dealing with heat than others. If your dog has a long, thick coat or they originate from a cold area in the world they are much more likely to feel the effects of heat.
Additionally, the colour of your canine companion’s coat can also have an effect on how they deal with heat in the sun. Darker colours tend to absorb more heat than lighter colours, however, this does not mean you can leave a dog with a light coloured coat in the sun all day.
Your Dog’s Tolerance to Heat
While your dog’s breed and coat type have a massive effect on how they deal with heat, their tolerance to hot temperatures also plays a big factor. If your dog has always lived in a country or area where it is hot all the time (or for extended periods of time) they will have a much better tolerance to heat.
Dogs that only experience hot weather once in a while will have a much lower tolerance to heat and will suffer if the mercury rises too much.
Environment They Live In
This is more to do with the house or place that your dog will be in while you are at work. If your house is poorly ventilated and heats up quickly you have a problem and you may want to keep your canine companion outside. Alternatively, if it is hot and humid outside you will probably want to keep your dog inside with the air conditioning on (if you have any).
How Do Dogs Shed Heat?
Dogs and humans are quite different when it comes to getting rid of excess heat. Humans reduce their body temperature via sweating, whereas dogs dissipate heat by panting. Dogs do have some sweat glands in the pads of their paws, but there are very few and they do not help to remove heat that much. If panting is not enough, your dog’s body temperature will rise and they will overheat.
Health Problems for an Overheating Dog
Overheating & Heatstroke
Overheating is a major problem in warm weather, especially if your dog is left alone while you are at work or out somewhere. If your dog overheats while you are out, you will not be able to help them quickly. This is a serious issue as if your dog is not capable of reducing their body temperature quickly enough, they may experience some nasty health complications.
Below we have listed some signs of a dog that is overheating or suffering from heatstroke:
- Excessive panting
- Dark red tongue or gums
- Excessive drooling
- Glazed eyes
- Increased pulse
If you notice any of the above symptoms when you come home from work you should contact your vet immediately, especially if the room or area they are in feels excessively hot. The best way to stop your dog getting serious health complications from overheating is to prevent them from overheating in the first place, so act before these symptoms occur!
Note: heatstroke is associated with a body temperature that is higher than 41 degrees Celsius.
Main Causes of Overheating and Heatstroke in Dogs
We have listed some of the main causes of heatstroke and overheating below.
- Excessive heat and humidity from either weather conditions or being stuck in an environment with no ventilation.
- Too much exercise.
- Diseases that increase the chance of developing hypothermia; such as heart diseases, paralysis of the voice box and other muscular related diseases.
- Diseases or sickness that limits breathing
- Poisoning from various different products or compounds such as weed killers and slug and snail bait. If your dog ingests or comes into contact with these chemicals it can lead to seizures which can increase their core body temperature.
Heatstroke Treatment Methods for Dogs
If you come home from work and suspect that your dog is suffering from heatstroke it is important to deal with the problem in a swift manner. Note down all of the symptoms your dog is experiencing as your vet will want to know them when you get your canine companion checked out.
The first thing to do is to try and immerse your dog’s body in cool water (don’t submerge their head though). If you are finding this difficult, spray your dog with water from either a water bottle or a hose (avoid using a jet spray when using a hose). Additionally, you can wrap your dog in a wet towel or use fans (although, we prefer the first three methods, especially if it is really hot).
You should also move your dog out of the hot environment and into a cool one as soon as possible. If your dog refuses to move or simply can’t, it is a good idea to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible (remember to cool your dog down at the same time).
When you are trying to cool your dog down, do not use ice water as it can reduce their ability to cool themselves down. Ice water can cause blood vessels near the surface of the body to constrict, which can slow down the cooling process. This goes for drinking water as well. Give your dog cool, but not ice cold water to drink. Additionally, only encourage your dog to drink, do not force them to do so.
Once you have cooled your dog down sufficiently you should take them to be examined by a vet as soon as possible. They will be able to confirm that your dog’s standard body temperature has been reached and that there are no long-lasting health complications. If you cannot get your dog to cool down, wrap them in a wet towel and take your dog to the vets immediately.
Methods to Keep Your Dog Cool While You are at Work
Keeping your dog cool while you are out is largely down to controlling the environmental factors that they are in. You should check the expected temperature for the day, so that you can plan ahead. While you can’t change the weather, there are quite a few things you can do to make dog’s day a bit more comfortable.
Make Sure They Have Plenty of Water
This is a pretty obvious one, but it is incredibly important. Your dog should have ample access to fresh drinking water while you are at work. If the weather is hot your dog can quickly become dehydrated if they do not have access to water. Additionally, even if it is not hot your dog can become dehydrated without enough water, especially if they are left alone during a typical working day (8 – 10 hours or so).
Before you leave for work, we recommend that you leave an additional one or two bowels of water with your dog to make sure they stay hydrated. It is also a good idea to drop a few ice cubes in their water bowl or fill their bowels up with cold water from the fridge.
Make Them Some Icy Treats
While icy treats aren’t going to last the whole day while you are at work, they are a great option to cool your dog down at the start of the day. We recommend freezing some food such as peas, carrots or even cooked chicken in some ice cubes and giving it to them before work. Plain ice cubes can also be used and can also be put in your dog’s water.
Note: Do not give your dog ice cubes if they are overheating or suffering from heatstroke as this can impede the cooling process.
Run the Air Con While You Are Out
If your house or apartment has air conditioning it should be kept on while you are at work to help keep your dog cool. If the cool air doesn’t reach the room or area where your dog is in, you should move them to a room where it does (or as close to as possible).
For those without air conditioning, you can place a fan in front of where your dog sits or sleeps to help keep them cool. This is also a good alternative method if the cool air from your air conditioning unit does not reach the area where your dog is in. However, while fans do provide some cooling, they are no substitute for a properly functioning air conditioning system.
Keep Your Dog Downstairs
Anybody that owns a multi-story house or building knows how hot the upper levels can get. If you live in a multi-story building, keep your dog downstairs while you are at work (unless you have a nice air-conditioned area for them upstairs).
Make Sure They Have a Cool Surface to Lie/Sit On
Have you ever noticed that when your dog is hot they find a cool surface to lie on? Floors that are made from tiles or wood are far cooler than those with a layer of carpet on top of them.
If your dog only has access to a flooring area that is carpeted/warm, we recommend that you purchase them a cooling mat. This cooling mat from The Green Pet Shop is an excellent option for those who need a nice cool sleeping area for their canine companion.
Replace Your Dog’s Blanket With a Wet One or Towel
This sort of ties in with the above and is an excellent method to help keep your dog cool while you are at work. While it won’t keep your dog cool forever, it will help them for an hour or so and is great when used in conjunction with other methods. Remember, covering your dog with a wet towel is also an excellent method to cool them down when they are overheating or suffering from heatstroke.
Get a Paddling Pool for your Dog
A plastic paddling/kiddie pool that is filled with water is a great way to keep your dog cool while you are at work. While this method may be out of the question if your dog is kept inside while you are at work, for those who keep their dogs outside this is a great option. If you do keep your dog inside, but have an area for a small paddling pool, you can get your dog to go in it before you head off to work. This will cool them down before you go to work.
Note: If you are going to get a pool for your dog, make sure it is rugged and non-inflatable. Your dog will quickly puncture and destroy and inflatable paddling pool, so keep this in mind.
Make Sure you Regularly Groom Your Dog
Regular brushing/grooming can help to remove any excess or old fur/hair. This old coat material can trap heat close to the body, which can make your dog more susceptible to overheating and heatstroke. If your dog’s coat is on the longer side, consider getting it trimmed so that they can stay cooling and more comfortable while you are at work.