By Nina Clare
- Checking temperature
- Pulse rates
- Respiratory rates
- Gum colour and CRTs
- What to do if your dog has a heatstroke
- Ideas for keeping your dog cool
- Pavement on hot pays
- Often people offer the dog water when it starts to pant, but this is already
too late. when the dog's body reaches the dehydrated state, it will take a long
time for the water to travel through the body and reach the dehydrated cells.
- If you know it's going to be a hot day, get your dog to drink extra water in
the morning. This can be with breakfast or by adding oil/butter/yoghurt to your
dog's water to encourage drinking.
- The amount of water given depends on the situation and the size of your dog.
You can easily add 3-7dl water in a Newfoundland dog's morning food on a hot
- Hydrating early allows for your pet to be better hydrated throughout the day.
- If you are at an event, give majority of water 3-4h before. Do not exercise
your dog right after giving a lot of water to minimize bloat risk.
- Even when hydrating in the morning, keep water available throughout the day.
Testing hydration levels:
The longer it takes for the wrinkles to smooth, the more dehydrated your dog. If
your dog is properly hydrated, the wrinkles should smooth immediately.
should always show elasticity, so if pulled back anywhere on the body, the skin
should quickly bounce back.
What is heatstroke?
- Dogs can't perspire and can only dissipate heat by panting and through the
pads on their feet.
- Heatstroke occurs when the dog cannot dispel heat quick enough.
- Short nosed dogs like pugs and boxers are more likely to get heatstroke due to
the structure of their airways.
- Other risk factors: Old age, obesity, heart disease, breathing issues,
exertion in hot weather, lack of water, certain medications and health
How to prevent heatstroke
1. Keep pets cool by
- keeping them in shade
- by wetting them with cool water
- keeping them in areas with a draft/breeze or by using fans
2. Always have fresh, clean water available.
3. Restrict exercise and don't overdo play sessions.
4. Exercise your dog during the coolest part of the day.
- Muzzles can prevent panting which can be dangerous on a hot day. If your dog
uses a muzzle, be extremely vigilant.
- DO NOT use ice to cool down your dog as it will constrict blood vessels. Blood
vessels transport cooled blood around the body which cools the vital organs. Ice
will impede this cooling.
Signs of heatstroke
How to check your dog's temperature when out and about
1. Feel gum temperature with your hand
2. Feel under ear temperature with your hand
Normal pulse rates in dogs
While pulse rate is always measured in beats per minute (bpm). It is easier to
measure 15s worth of beats and calculating this x4 if you are struggling to keep
your dog still. It will be less accurate, but will give a good indication of
your dog's pulse rate.
Where to take pulse on a dog?
How to check respiration rate?
Respiration rate = amount of breaths/minute
Measured by placing your hand on the dog's chest and feeling how many times the
chest rises and falls during a minute. As with pulse rate, you can calculate 15s
worth and then multiply by 4. However this will not be as accurate as
calculating breaths per minute.
Normal respiration rate is 10-30 breaths per minute.
Checking gum colour and capillary refill time (CRT)
Check your dog's gum colour, so you know what normal looks like. This helps you
determine instantly when there is a problem.
1. Lift your dog's lip and press your finger against the gums until they turn
2. When you remove your finger, a healthy dog's gums will turn pink again within
2 seconds. If the gums stay white, dark pink or take a while to turn back to
their normal colour, your dog is likely suffering from dehydration or other
If you suspect heatstroke
- DO get your pet out of the heat and place in shade
- Do use fans or place your dog in an area with a breeze/draft
- DO use cool water to cool your dog by wetting or by placing a wet cloth on
heart or groin areas as this is the quickest way for the blood to cool and be
transported elsewhere in the body.
- DO offer ice cubes for the dog to lick
- DO offer fresh, cool, water for the dog to drink
- DO contact your veterinarian
- DON'T place cool/wet clothes on feet as it will reduce the limbs' cooling
- DON'T over cool your pet
- DON'T use ice as very cold water will constrict the blood vessels and impede
- DON'T force water down your pet's mouth
- DON'T leave your pet unattended
Ideas for keeping your pet cool
- Frozen blocks (watermelon/treats frozen in ice) are great for cooling and
- Pool/paddling pool. Even if your dog is swimming on a hot day, check for signs
of heatstroke as dogs often forget to drink when swimming.
- Cooling mats/coats. Ensure the coat stays wet as if the coat is dry, it can
quickly heat up your dog on a hot day.
Pavement on hot days
- Walking on hot pavement can burn and damage your dog's pads.
- The key rule is that if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your dog's
Use the 5s test to find out !
Stay safe and hydrated this summer!