Dogs get more heat intolerant in general as they grow older, and the saying goes that a dog that has already had a heat exhaustion or heat stroke incident will likely be heat sensitive forever.
This appeared to be the case with my old Weim, Riley. He suffered from heat exhaustion at a field trial several years ago. It was so hot that day that I dunked my head in a nasty horse trough to get my head cooled down.
The lesson here? (That is, besides the fact that vanity vanishes pretty fast when you are faced with a quick way to cool down.) Pay attention to your dog. If YOU are starting to feel so uncomfortable in the heat that you are willing to dunk your head in a horse trough, it means your Weim is probably more uncomfortable than you and potentially in a dangerous situation! Heat exhaustion leads to heat stroke, and heat stroke can kill.
Managing Heat Exhaustion
Take Quick Action If You See Any Of The Following
- Lots of rapid panting, labored breathing
- Dark red gums and/or dry gums
- Excessive drooling
- Shaking, loss of coordination
What To Do If Your Weim Gets To This Point
- Get into shade
- Apply cool water (not ice!) on the feet, ears, head, belly, genitals and inside the “armpits” and legs
- Even if he seems OK, depending on how severe his symptoms, go to the vet. I still remember that the day after Riley got overheated at the field trial, another dog died the next day after complications from heat stroke.
Preventing Heat Exhaustion
- You know the drill. Don’t leave dogs in a car when it’s warm. For Riley, I leave him in a parking garage at work as long as it’s under 80 degrees F, with windows half way open. With no sun exposure all day, he is perfectly peachy.
- Many driven dogs do not self-regulate! Do you have this type of dog? They will keep chasing their favorite tennis ball, will keep hunting for birds, or just won’t quit playing. If they won’t stop over-exerting themselves, then you have to do it for them.
- Keep in mind that swimming doesn’t guarantee a “safe” activity in heat. This goes with the tip above. Riley loves to swim and I have in the past been lulled with the false idea that just because he was wet that he’d stay cool, but swimming hard got him over heated — just not as quickly.
- Take off the extra weight! Fatter dogs are more prone to problems with the heat.
What About Gear?
It sounded so good in concept I had to try a cooling bed. In concept it worked… except it lasted a day, and apparently those who wrote reviews on Amazon had the same experience; i.e., the dogs ate it. Enough said.
A cooling collar is next on my list. I like the idea of the “artificial perspiration” but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to leave my dog unattended with it on.
Psst!! Do it Your Selfers!
You’ll see it at dog shows all the time. Go buy a chamois (or “shammy”), yes, like the kind you use for your car, wet it and drape it over your dog to keep him nice and cool. Sew on some velcro strips so it stays on, and voila, your own home made cool coat!
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