It’s that time of year again – time to prepare your French Bulldog (or any other breed of dog) for summer and to prepare an emergency kit against heat stroke and heat exhaustion. I’m going to assume that anyone reading this knows to NEVER EVER leave your dog inside a hot car. Doing so is a recipe for heat stroke in your dog.
First off, remember the ice cream rule:
Your dog is made of ice cream. If the weather is warm enough that you wouldn’t leave your ice cream inside your car for ‘just a few minutes’, then please do NOT leave your dog in there, either.
When it comes to outside fun, apply the palm of the hand measurement to decide if it’s too warm for your dog:
If you can’t leave your hand palm down on the ground or pavement for more than 60 seconds without being uncomfortable, it’s too hot for your dog.
A lot of fingers get pointed at French Bulldogs and other flat faced breeds when it comes to warm weather risks, and it’s true – flat faced dogs are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion, which is why good breeders are concentrating on breeding dogs with a less exaggeratedly short face.
That said, please do NOT assume that because your dogs isn’t one of those dogs that he is not vulnerable to heat stroke. Every year, dogs of all sorts of different breeds die of heat stroke during walks in the park, while playing frisbee, or from being left inside the car for ‘just a few minutes’ (and do not get me started on people who leave dogs tied up in the back of pickup trucks in full sun exposure).
Dogs of any breed do not by nature expand a lot of energy when it’s hot out – they know better! They find a shady spot and hunker down for a nap. Even the so-called “Desert breeds” stay as cool as possible during the heat of the day. Nature knows best – and she sure knows better than some of the humans who put their dogs at risk all summer long.
Now that I’m done ranting, let’s examine a few things you can have on hand to keep your dog cool and prevent heat stroke. For an ‘in case of heat stroke’ kit to have on hand, click here.
Keeping Cool – Items to Help Prevent Heat Stroke
The first, best thing is a cooling coat. There are a few kinds available – from high tech fabrics to terry cloth towels with Velcro attached. They all work by the same principal – wicking heat away from your dog’s body. I personally prefer the ones that wrap around and underneath my dog’s belly – keeping internal core temperature cool is priority one, for preventing heat stroke.
If you’re going to be outside for a while, bring along a cooling mat. The principal is pretty basic – your dog lies on the wet mat, and it wicks heat away from their body. This is the same principle that causes dogs to lie on cool tile floors or shady dirt.
Super Low Tech Cooling Mat – a Towel
Bring along a towel soaked in water inside a plastic bag. For extra cooling, keep in fridge or freezer until ready to leave.
Portable Water Source
This is pretty basic – your dog needs access to tons of fresh drinking water in the summer. Water is also handy for soaking dogs down – the head, the belly and the groin region, in particular. Since you can’t count on there being any where you’re going, it’s up to us to bring it along. You can do this with just bottled water, but I suggest also bring a bowl, or a fancy gadget to use as a portable bowl.
These are great for crated dogs. Put a cooling pad down inside the crate, and keep a re chargable, portable fan aimed at them. Also works if you have to leave them under a tent at a show or event.
Nothing makes my Frenchies happier than flopping down in a plastic kiddie pool. Some lie in them, some splash around in them, and some just like to head over for a quick drink. Either way, make sure you clean them out, including scrubbing the interior surfaces, and to change out the water at least every other day.
Hot Dog Emergency?
No matter how good your plans and preparations, even responsible owners can be ill prepared for a dog overheating. If this happens to you, use what you have on hand to get your dog’s core body temperature down, as quickly and safely as possible.
Soak paper towels in cool water, and wrap them around your dog, including their head and belly. If possible, get your dog to lie on the soaked paper. Swap it out frequently as it warms up.
Soak your dog down with water – bottled, from a tap, or dip them into a pond or creek. You want to soak them down, to help wick away heat. If you have a body of water you can safely stand with them in, immersed up to their neck, do it – but stay in there with them.
Limited drinks – too much water can cause vomiting, which will worsen their distress and further impair breathing.
Nothing is helping? Head for the vet! Call the closest emergency vet, and head on it. Your dog’s life may depend on it.