SIGNS YOUR GREYHOUND IS OVERHEATING
With temperatures heating up across the country, now is a good time to review signs that your Greyhound is overheating and what to do about it with a few simple tips to help your dog stay cool and safe over summer.
Small measures can help keep dogs cool and avoid overheating, which is a risk as the summer heat intensifies and more people spend time outside. White or fine-coated breeds, like Greyhounds and Whippets, are especially vulnerable to sunburn, while the black coated dog absorbs heat, adding to the danger of overheating and heat stroke. Overheating is producing body heat faster than the dog can dissipate the heat into the environment.
Dogs cool themselves by panting. But panting becomes inefficient in extreme heat, during physical exertion, when the dog is dehydrated or when there's insufficient ventilation, or a combination of those factors. Within minutes, a dog can become overheated, which can lead to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, kidney failure, brain damage and even death.
Signs your hound is on the verge of overheating include excessive panting, disorientation, and a mouth open so wide you can see all of the teeth. As a dog’s temperature rises, blood rushes to the surfaces of the tongue, gums, and membranes to help transfer excess heat. Frantic panting, extreme salivation, bright-red membranes, and labored breathing are clear warning signs that your dog is overheated and may quickly progress to a metabolic meltdown as his temperature rises to over 106 F and he can no longer cool himself.
He may gasp for air, and the entire mouth will become grayish to purple because of the unmet oxygen demand. As he dehydrates, the saliva thickens, and he may vomit and have diarrhea. Unable to stand, he may have a seizure, become comatose, and die. Even if you can cool him and he acts normal, rush him to an emergency clinic because his organs may have already been damaged and death could follow.
If your dog gets to the point of overheating, take him to a veterinarian immediately. Warning signs may include unresponsiveness, wheezing, disorientation, wobbliness, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures or collapse.
If you think your Greyhound is overheating, quickly move to a cool place and immediately spray cool (not cold or icy) water on the coat, ensuring it reaches the skin. Cold water tends to constrict the surface blood vessels in the skin and this reduces, instead of increases, heat loss. Also wipe the face and muzzle with cool water.
Give your dog plenty of water and, if possible, use a fan to draw heat from the blood at the body surface, or fan the dog yourself if an electric fan is unavailable.
One of the most effective ways to cool a dog is to let the pup jump in a lake, river or pool. But beware of blue-green algae: if there’s blue-green algae floating on an area of water, keep your dog away. The algae is highly toxic and can cause diarrhea, nausea and breathing difficulties. Blue-green algae can make the water appear green or blueish, or in brown clumps. If you’re even slightly worried that the water might contain the algae, it’s best to steer clear of it.
Try cool cloths, which are made of chamois material, like those used to dry cars at a car wash. Put a moist chamois on your dog’s back without getting him too wet. If you keep your cool cloth in a cooler, don’t put it directly into the ice. You don’t want to put anything ice-cold onto a dog, because that shrinks the blood vessels and actually generates more internal heat.
A cooling coat or cooling vest can deflect the heat and cools the dog through evaporation, such as this cool down coat.
- Cooling crate pad or a cold, wet towel that you can spread out for your dog to lie on. You can also have him stand on a damp towel to help the footpads release heat.
- Rubbing alcohol which you can dab behind your dog’s ears, on his stomach, or on his paws. Rubbing alcohol cools faster than water and can draw out heat.
- Spray bottle filled with cool water. Spray his underside that’s not exposed to the hot sun (such as the groin area, where the hair is less dense), the bottoms of his feet, and inside his mouth.
- Unflavored pediatric electrolyte solution for the dog to drink if he gets dehydrated.
1. Keep your dog hydrated with fresh, cool water. Carry a water bottle or portable water bowl.
2. Provide shade or go inside.
3. Take frequent breaks and don't play too hard.
4. Provide good air flow with a fan or air conditioning. If your air conditioning turns off on an extra-hot day, go to the coolest area of the house you can, such as the basement. If you are away from home, install a temperature alarm in your motor home, van, and house that dials your cell phone automatically. Dogs have been lost when air conditioners or power failed unbeknownst to the owners.
5. Decrease your dog's activity and avoid the hottest parts of the day. On really hot days, keep your dog inside.
6. Avoid hot pavement unless your dog’s paws are protected. If the concrete/asphalt is too hot for you barefoot, it’s too hot for your pup.
7. Never leave your dog in the car on hot days.
8. Acclimate your dog to hot weather gradually and don’t exercise him on hot, humid days.
9. Don’t place a crated dog where there is inadequate ventilation in warm, stagnant air under tents or in poorly ventilated buildings.
10. Carefully observe elderly dogs, those that are chronically ill, or pets with respiratory inefficiency.
11. If you have a yard or even a patio, invest in a kiddie pool, or a sprinkler for them to splash through so they can have fun and stay cool.
12. Freeze treats into ice cubes. Take their favorite treats and pop them into water or no-salt-added broth in an ice cube tray to refresh them when they need a cool down.
13. Limit time at the beach, unless shade is readily accessible, and don’t let your dog drink salt water.
14. For preventive measures, have supplies on hand such as cool-packs, towels, ice, and spray bottles and bring along on outings. You never know when it can become too warm.
Remember, if you are sweating, your Greyhound is already uncomfortable and must work much harder to cool down by panting. A good rule of thumb: If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your canine companion. Observe your dog carefully, and if you notice symptoms of overheating, don’t wait until it’s too late. Take precautions to prevent overheating, but if that fails, take immediate action to prevent a tragedy.