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Hot Weather And Your Dog

Car Temperatures in Warm Weather

Did you know? Cars are like small ovens. They heat up fairly quickly in warm weather, especially if the windows are all rolled up. This can lead to a dangerous environment for your dog.

Many of us think "It's not that hot out, I can just run into the store and run back out again, my dog will be fine!". But that's not always the case. A car can quickly heat up to scorching temperatures. The chart below shows how long it takes for a car to heat up to dangerous temperatures.

CAR TEMPERATURE DOG SAFETY CHART
IF IT IS THIS HOT OUTSIDE: IT ONLY TAKES THIS LONG: TO REACH THIS INSIDE THE CAR:
75°F 10 Min. 100°F
75°F 30 Min. 120°F
85°F 5 Min. 90°F
85°F 7-8 Min. 100°F
90°F Less than 10 Min. 160°F
100°F 15 Min. 140°F

A dog can develop heatstroke when left in a car for too long. The symptoms of heatstroke in a dog are:

restlessness excessive thirst thick saliva heavy panting
lethargy lack of appetite dark tongue rapid heartbeat
fever vomiting bloody diarrhea lack of coordination

If you see a dog left alone in a hot car, note the car's color, model, make, and license plate number. Have the owner paged in the nearest buildings, or call the police. Don't leave the scene until the situation has been resolved.

Keep your furry friend healthy and comfortable! If it is a hot day, leave your pet at home while you run errands.

Boxer Health and Heat Stress

(by a non-veterinarian Boxer lover who does dog sports in hot weather)

First of all, you might ask your vet in your area if they have any specific recommendations to help prevent your Boxer from the effects of heat stress. Here in Southern CA, we have almost no indoor dog facilities, so those of us who are active in dog sports end up taking our Boxers out in the hot weather for dog shows, training, and just for fun. While there are some dangers in doing this, we have learned, over the years, how to diminish the risks to our Boxers.

For those of you in cooler states, you need to remember that your Boxer, who is used to cooler weather overall, can overheat faster when your weather warms up because they are not used to it. So, in summertime or unseasonably warm weather everywhere, it is a good idea to be prepared.

What Happens to Dogs in Hot Weather?

As we know, people 'sweat' as their form of respiration (cooling off), and may breathe more heavily. Dogs do not have the same kind of sweat glands. They PANT, and they have some sweat glands on the bottoms of their paws, but that's it. Bracecyphalic dogs, like Boxers, have a shorter nose, and often, additional flesh inside their mouth and throat which makes their respiration less efficient. In other words, Boxers overheat more quickly than many other breeds of dogs, and this is very important to bear in mind. Weather that might not be too hot for another dog, MIGHT be too hot for your Boxer. High humidity may make it harder for your Boxer to cool off, too. So, how can you get your Boxer safely through hot and humid weather?

  1. Lots and lots of cool, fresh drinking water, available at all times for the dog, in the house or in the yard. If the weather is hot, and your Boxer is digging, it might be due to heat stress. This is an important time to help your Boxer cool off NOW! A child's wading pool filled with water is a great idea for many Boxers.
  2. A place to cool off. A dark, quiet place with a fan, drinking water, a cool mat to lie on, or again, the child's wading pool in the yard. You can buy a 'cool mat' from most pet supply places or you can make one from wet towels.
  3. A 'wet coat.' Again, you can buy these at dog shows or from pet supply catalogs, but you can make one from a wet terrycloth towel or a chamois. Place the wet, wrung out 'wet coat' over the dog.
  4. NEVER leave your Boxer unattended in a car, truck or backyard. Especially without water and/or shade. Even on cloudy days, the temperature can rise quickly in a closed car. And even on cloudy days, the humidity can be too much for your Boxer.

Fine Tuning... More Prevention

Again because we have to learn to deal with heat as a constant in Southern CA, we have learned a few tips over the years to help our Boxers deal with the heat.

  1. Nupro Custom Electrolyte Formula for Dogs: This is like Gatorade for humans. It replaces the electrolytes that your Boxer loses in panting when overheated. You can get this at your pet food store or some pet supply places (like JB Wholesale, who always carries it). Some people use infants' and children's Pedialyte, which could work in an emergency. However, do NOT give your Boxer Gatorade, as it tends to make the dog's stomach crampy and that's the last thing you need if your dog is feeling heat stress. You can give the Nupro electrolytes in food daily and in water. It really helps my Boxers tolerate the heat better.
  2. Vitamin B Complex: My wonderful Southern CA vet recommends up to 100 mg for an adult Boxer per day in hot, humid weather. This helps your Boxer deal with stress (and heat stress is a form of 'stress') better. I simply crush it into my Boxers' food.
  3. Honey: Honey has a lot of vitamins and minerals, so it helps to restore lost electrolytes like Nupro or Pedialyte. However, it isn't as powerful, but it can help prevent heat stress. Add it to food, or take a squeeze bottle with you that is just for your Boxer if you need to be out in the heat and humidity.
  4. Doggy Air Conditioner's: You make these yourself by freezing water in the 1 or 2 litre Coke bottles or other large soda or water bottles. Put in a crate or small room with your Boxers, these provide cool air as they evaporate, and cool drinking water. Several will keep your Boxer nicely cool for several hours.
  5. Splash water on the bottom of their paws, ears, private parts, and tummies. This helps to cool them down.

How to Tell if Your Boxer is Overheating

Rapid panting, with tongue hanging out, and a tight look around the eyes. The Boxer's sides are heaving. A Boxer who does not ordinarily dig, who is digging, and who is very dirty. This Boxer is trying to get to cool ground to cool it's body off. A Boxer who when drinking water, shoves its head up to the eyeballs and tosses water over it's back. Your Boxer's ears and gums and pink or white parts get very RED. Your Boxer is becoming uncoordinated (loss of electrolytes).

Okay, so you've provided water, a cool place, shade, and fortified your dog's diet against heat stress, exhaustion or heat stroke, and still your Boxer is in distress. What to do? First, call your vet and tell them what has happened. Follow whatever directions they give you. If you cannot reach a vet, do everything you can to get your Boxer's temperature down. If you can, put your Boxer in a bathtub of cool water. In the meantime, splash water on the bottoms of their paws, tummies, private parts, and ears. IF your Boxer is conscious or still responding, give them water to drink. If they are panting too hard to drink the water, trickle just a little in their mouths. Not a lot or they might choke. You might place ice packs on their chests and underbody areas. Keep trying to contact your vet in the meantime. Depending upon how severe the heat stress/exhaustion is, your Boxer may be shocky and may well need medical attention.

Summer is our fun time, and should be...With our wonderful Boxers, it can be a lot of fun, if you just take a few precautions.

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