It’s summertime and the living is easy—unless you’re an older dog. As dogs age, they aren’t able to regulate their body temperatures as efficiently as younger dogs, leaving them at greater risk for heat exhaustion.
During the summer months, always look for these warning signs of overheating:
- Rapid, heavy panting
- Digging to expose cool ground
- Walking unsteadily or falling
- Very red gums or ears
5 simple ways to prevent heat exhaustion:
- On hot days, try to keep your older dog inside where it’s cool. If he’s an outside dog, make sure he has a shady spot to rest and ample drinking water in his bowl all day. It’s also smart to keep a child’s wading pool nearby where he can take a refreshing dip as needed.
- Walk your senior dog in the early morning or after sunset. Remember, even after the sun goes down, pavement can remain very hot and burn a dog’s footpads.
- Incredibly, people still leave their dogs unattended in parked cars. With an older dog, this can be fatal—and fast. Temperatures can rise rapidly inside parked cars, even on cloudy days when the outside temperature is only 70 degrees. So keep your senior dog at your side or at home, and never alone in the car.
- Limit outdoor playtime, even if your dog still seems ready for more. And if your neighborhood park or dog run doesn’t have an easily accessible water source, bring your own.
- While a dog’s coat is a temperature regulator in both hot and cold weather, clipping the fur of a longer-haired dog to about one inch may help him to stay cool while leaving enough for sunburn protection. Consult your vet.
Above all, keep in mind that prevention is the best way to keep your older dog cool when the dog days of summer arrive.