Summer is in full swing and in addition to making sure your puppy has enough water in their bowl and protecting the pads of their paws from the harsh outside temperatures, a dog’s thermo-neutral zone should also be considered to keep your pets healthy and happy during the warmer months .
What is a dog’s thermo-neutral zone and why do we need to take it into account?
Lorraine Rhoads, environmental biologist at Dogtopia, explains the thermoneutral zone as “a normal temperature range where dogs can maintain their body temperature without using energy to increase heat production or loss”. This temperature range for dogs is between 20 ° C (68 ° F) and 30 ° C (86 ° F).
When the air temperature is warmer than a dog’s body temperature, the dog will absorb more heat from its surroundings. This additional heat usually has to be lost through the feet and nose, but from a temperature of over 87 ° the heat can no longer only escape through the skin.
As humans, we know that when the temperature starts to rise, it will take us longer to cool off when we return indoors or in a shady area. The same applies to dogs, but it has to be taken a little more seriously, as their bodies cannot process a lot of excess heat like humans. Once dogs can no longer give off heat through their paws and nose, the loss of heat through evaporation through panting will be the only solution for a dog to cool down faster. Other factors can make panting less effective. These include increased humidity, dehydration, and upper airway complications such as brachycephalic airway syndrome.
(Note: Brachycephalic breeds can have genetic, breed-specific traits such as narrowed nostrils and elongated soft palates that make breathing difficult. These breeds include the Boxer and Pit Bull, among many other short-nosed breeds.)
Did you know that the length of a dog’s nose is directly related to how cool the air is when it is inhaled?
Most brachycephalic breeds have shorter noses, which means they just can’t cool the air they breathe as easily as longer-snouted breeds. Think about it: a dog with a longer nose can breathe and cool the air longer than a dog with a shorter nose because it has more time to move through its nose before it gets to the lungs. To put it simply, dogs with shorter noses breathe warmer air in the summer because the air has less time to cool down before it gets to the lungs.
Also, the elongated soft palate of a dog with a shorter face can be irritated from excessive panting and airborne allergens, which can cause the airways to swell and sometimes narrow. Excessive panting that is not treated can lead to brachycephalic airway syndrome, or BAS. BAS is the closing of the dog’s airway, which is a veterinary emergency. It’s important to note that the risk of overheating is not limited to brachycephalic breeds, but also older dogs, thick-coated breeds, and overweight dogs.
Since the summer months stay warm, it is important to understand the difference between heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
- Heat stress: Increase in thirst and panting
- Heat exhaustion: severe panting and weakness
- Heatstroke: (Emergency Care Required): Anxiety, excessive panting, restlessness, excessive drooling, insecurity, abnormal gum and tongue color, collapse
Safe Summer Exercises Your Dog Will Love!
A great way for your pup to feel cool this summer while pulling out his jiggles is to include water in his game schedules. A small kiddy pool filled with a few inches of water or a garden sprinkler kit is perfect for keeping a dog playing while keeping its body temperature cool. Remember to take regular breaks to check if your dog is showing any signs or symptoms of heat stress, exhaustion, or stroke, as any exercise outdoors in the sun can cause your dog’s temperature to rise.
Please note that a humid climate can play an important role in how hot a dog feels outside. In warmer climates, freshen up on the dangers of hot asphalt. This will protect the paws from receiving too much heat from warm asphalt or concrete, and in turn creates a potential injury that will require time and possibly medical attention to heal. A simple touch test can be done to see if the floor your puppy is walking on is too hot for his or her paws. Place your hand on the asphalt or concrete for 7-8 seconds. If you can’t keep your hand on the floor for the full 7-8 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog.
At the end of the day, we’d like to remind all pet parents to be mindful and aware of their dog’s wellbeing to ensure happy tail wagging and a healthy body for a lifetime. If the weather near you is too warm for your outdoor activities with your dog, consider a dog daycare at Dogtopia! Our indoor playrooms are kept between 65-75 ° F and are the perfect place for your dog to meet and exercise with other like-minded dogs. In addition, our HVAC systems keep your pup at the perfect temperature during play and nap time, and constantly circulate fresh and clean air to keep the facility odor free. Ready to take your dog into daycare? Use our location finder to find a Dogtopia near you: https://www.dogtopia.com/location-finder/
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