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What you need to know about hot weather and dogs

Posted at 6:35 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 11:58:27-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Many people believe that dogs are able to withstand the heat better than humans.

This is not true. A dog is at risk for heatstroke once the outside temperature hits at least 80 degrees.

Dogs are actually designed to conserve heat. Their hair and inability to sweat like a human means that their temperature will climb quicker than ours.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs:

  • Excessive panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Bright red gums
  • Body temp higher than 104 degrees
  • Seizures

If you believe your dog is suffering a heat stroke, you should:

  • Move the dog to a cool or air-conditioned area ASAP
  • Wet the dog down with cool water (do NOT immerse the dog in ice-cold water)
  • Apply cold packs to the dog's groin and paw pads
  • Apply rubbing alcohol to paw pads, under the front armpits and in the groin/flank area
  • Call your veterinarian

Dogs don’t sweat like humans. They sweat through their paws. However, that provides minimum relief.

A dog’s primary method of cooling itself is by panting, which causes air to circulate through their mouth and nasal cavities and results in water evaporation. If a dog has a breathing issue caused by a medical condition, this will prevent them from being able to cool themselves properly.

Additionally, short-nosed breeds like pugs, bulldogs, boxers, Shih Tzus etc. will also not be able to cool themselves as efficiently as a larger breed.

If your dog lives inside, make sure it has a cool place to lie down and easy access to water. Don’t rely on a fan to keep your dog cool. They don’t work on dogs the same way they do on humans. The suggested inside temperature is 78 degrees minimum. If you have a large, long-haired dog, 75 degrees may be best.

If you must keep a dog outside during extreme heat, make sure it has plenty of shade. A dog house does not provide relief from the heat because it prevents airflow.

You should also consider putting down damp towels for your dog to lie on, fill a kiddie pool with water, install a misting system, or use a garden sprinkler to provide relief.

If you live in Las Vegas, you should be aware of the new measures that were adopted in May to protect dogs who are tethered outside.

Dog owners in the city of Las Vegas can not tether a dog outside if the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory, which is usually when the temperature is 105 degrees or higher.

Additionally, dogs can not be tethered outside longer than 10 hours in a 24-hour period.

RELATED STORY: Animal cruelty and heat focus of Las Vegas City Council meeting

Do NOT shave your dog unless its hair is extremely thick. A dog’s hair actually protects them from overheating and sunburn. If you do shave your dog, leave at least one inch of hair. It's best to discuss shaving with your veterinarian before doing so. Also, if you choose to have it done, use a professional groomer.

Do brush your dog more often. Brushing your dog will help remove the dead undercoat which will allow air to circulate near the skin.

Be careful not to let your dog's paws become burned.

Some people believe that a dog’s paws are tough and will not burn. This is also not true.

It only takes 60 seconds on pavement that is 125 degrees for a dog’s paws to burn.

In addition to simply not walking your dog on hot pavement, there are ways to help protect your dog’s paws.

You can use paw wax, dog shoes or socks or peel and stick pads.

If your dog starts limping, licking or chewing its feat and the paw pads are darker in color than usual or you notice blisters, your dog’s paws have been injured.

RELATED STORY: How to keep your dog safe during Las Vegas summer heat, when to walk them

Last but not least, never leave your dog or any other pet in a car when it is hot.

Nevada’s animal cruelty law (Nevada Revised Statue 202.487) makes it a misdemeanor to “allow a pet to remain unattended in a parked or standing motor vehicle if conditions, including, without limitation, extreme heat or cold, present a significant risk to the health and safety of the pet.”

Penalties for breaking the law include up to 6 months in jail and/or up-to $1,000 in fines.

If you see a dog trapped in a hot car, be aware that you will not be protected by the law if you decide to break into it to rescue the dog.

Although people who break into cars to rescue animals are protected in some states, that is NOT the case in Nevada.

Instead, you can call the non-emergency number for police or contact animal control officers. The number for Clark County Animal Control is 702-455-7710.

If there is time, you can also attempt to locate the owner by going into nearby businesses and asking a store manager or security personnel to make an announcement asking the owner to return to the car.

You should only break into a car if you are prepared to face any possible consequences.

If you see a child trapped in a car, you can break into the car to rescue the child. People who rescue children are protected under the state’s Good Samaritan law.