By Dr Laura Hutchinson of Trinity Animal Clinic
- Avoid walking your dog during the hottest parts of the day. Instead, walk them either early morning or late evening when it’s cooler. This will also protect the sensitive pads on their paws from the hot ground.
- If your dog is in a kennel or dog pen, it must be located in a shady, well-ventilated area and your dog needs plenty of access in and out of the kennel.
- Pens should be of a height and width that allows your dog to stand or lay down without their head touching the top or sides of the kennel (at least 5 inches above the head), and they must be able to move around comfortably.
- Pens should have adequate ventilation, while still offering coverage from heavy rain.
- Dogs that are kept outside need plenty of shade.
- If you notice your dog panting excessively, they’ll need to be cooled down with either a fan or by hosing them down for 5-10 minutes with cool water.
- Dogs need access to fresh water daily. This means that their water bowl needs to be washed and fresh water provided every day and refilled if it becomes empty.
- Pay special attention to elderly or sick dogs when it is very hot, and prevent them from lying in the sun, especially during the hottest times of the day.
Why you should never leave your dog in the car
Never leave your dog unattended in a car, even if the window is left slightly open, the car is parked in the shade and water is provided. This is because dogs rely on panting to keep themselves cool and cars get hot very quickly. However, as the dog pants to stay cool, their heart rate increases and also the blood flow throughout the body. The surface blood vessels then dilate in an attempt to cool the body of the dog. This in turn makes the core blood pressure drop and decreases the circulating blood volume. The end result is a further elevation in body temperature. All of this can occur within a few minutes, and if it prolongs, organs such as the kidneys, liver and circulatory system may fail.
If you come back to the car and find your dog unresponsive, your dog will need immediate veterinary attention. Turn on the AC and if you have rubbing alcohol, apply to the pads of the paws, ears and belly.
IMPORTANT: It only takes six (6) minutes for a dog to die in a hot car.
Speak with your veterinarian or contact the Barbados RSPCA, to learn more about heatstroke in dogs.
You can email [email protected] for general advice on dog care.