Is Your Dog Overheated or at Risk From Dehydration?

Photo of Opal by Moore Photography

Photo of Opal by Moore Photography

Texas is well known for it’s heat and humidity so keeping our canines cool can be challenging. During the “dog days of summer,” some canines can suffer from dehydration, becoming overheated and suffer from possible heat exhaustion. It’s important for pet owners to understand when their dogs may be at risk and what they should look for in the way of signs and symptoms.

Sometimes we may not notice if our dog is simply being lazy or if them being lethargic (a huge red flag) is heat-related. If your dog is normally excited to see you when you get home from work or school, they’re less than enthused when it’s time to go for a walk, there could be a problem.

Some dogs are at a higher risk

Older dogs and younger pets are at a greater risk of developing heat-related problems along with dogs who may be overweight or obese. Canines with black hair or skin, and dogs like pugs (known as Brachycephalic breeds) who have shorter snouts are often victims of breathing disorders that can be elevated in the heat. If you notice your dog is having difficulty breathing when it’s hot, you should take them to see a veterinarian immediately.

The dangers of dehydration and heat stroke in dogs

When it comes to dehydration, there’s one quick and easy test that humans can perform on dogs to quickly see if their lacking in fluids. Using your thumb and forefinger, gently pinch a small amount of skin on a dog’s back and after releasing, it should pop back into place almost immediately. If not, this lack of elasticity is a sign they’re in trouble and should be taken to the vet.

Some symptoms of possible dehydration can mimic those of heat stroke, so we should pay attention to any of these warning signs your dog could be in danger, including:

  • seeking cooler places to lie down
  • lying down and is difficult to rouse
  • behaving confused, disorientated, weak and/or lethargic
  • showing a lack of coordination
  • panting persistently, which could start, stop and begin again
  • expressing restlessness, agitation or aggression for no apparent reason
  • whining or barking for no reason
  • foaming or frothing at the mouth
  • drooling excessively (known as hypersalivation)
  • breathing in a way that is labored or difficult
  • having an increased heart rate
  • developing dry, white or red and tacky gums
  • vomiting or diarrhea

Signs of dehydration in dogs that weren’t listed above can often include:

  • a loss of appetite
  • rapid weight loss
  • depression
  • excessive urination, which means water isn’t being absorbed properly
  • sunken eyes

Dogs who are housed outdoors can be prone to drink less since their water can become too hot and canines who are outside during winter can have their water bowls freeze without their owner’s knowledge. Anything that adversely affects a dog’s appetite or water intake can predispose a dog to possible dehydration.

If left untreated, these types of symptoms can lead to seizures, collapse, coma or even death in some cases.  Remember that it doesn’t necessarily have to be hot for a dog to become overheated or dehydrated. While it’s obviously more prevalent during summer months, we should still monitor their behaviors and actions for signs of heat stroke or dehydration year round.

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