Dangerous Environmental Temperatures for Dogs
During periods of extremely hot and cold weather, maintaining a proper care for your dog’s environmental needs will ensure its well-being and health. Owners often neglect the small details seemingly meaningless to us; while in fact, they have a high impact on the dog’s health.
When talking about dogs and the impact of heat and coldness on them, we must make a breed-specific difference and afterward a difference of a dog’s usual living space and surroundings. There are dogs that are used to living outside, in the yards, dog houses or kennels. Dogs that have grown up and lived most of their lives outside are far more superior in acclimatizing in extreme conditions than the rest.
Definitely, the environmental temperature can have both negative and positive impact on dogs. Factors affecting the acclimation capabilities of a dog include age, breed, health status, diet, daily routines etc. Generally, the ambient temperatures considered safe for dogs both indoors and outdoors range between 50o F (10o C) and 85o F (29.5o C). It’s widely accepted that dogs spending more than 2-3 hours on temperatures below 45o F (7.2o C) and above 85o F (29.5o C) can experience some serious health issues, therefore, it’s good to shorten or limit outdoor activities when temperatures exceed the boundaries. BULLYADE HELPS TO REGULATE YOUR PETS BODY TEMPERATURE
Dog’s normal body temperature ranges between 99.5o F (37.5o C) and 102.5o F (39.17o C). Putting aside infectious diseases and some other conditions, a dog’s normal or physiological body temperature depends on heat input and heat output. Furthermore, heat input entirely depends on environmental temperatures and heat output is mostly achieved through panting and minimally through paw sweating and nose evaporation.
The effectiveness of panting is interfered by high air humidity, poor ventilation, respiratory diseases and closed space. Some dog breeds known as brachycephalic (boxers, bulldogs, pugs, Pekinese) have inherited complex respiratory problems so owners should be extra careful with them spending time in hot environment.
Dogs with a thick coat (Siberian Huskies, malamutes) can handle temperatures below 32o F (0o C) just fine if they are perfectly healthy. It’s important to mention that thermoregulation (increasing the body temperature or decreasing it) requires a lot of energy being spent by the dog. So the above mentioned safe temperature intervals only apply to adult healthy dogs. Puppies, dogs with some disease or senior dogs are much more sensitive to temperature variations.
Heatstroke and Sunstroke
Heatstroke, also referred to as hyperthermia in dogs is a condition when the body temperature rises above normal ranges (non-fever type) and the body thermoregulation mechanisms cannot cope with the situation.
Even though dogs of all breeds and ages can suffer from the condition, it mostly occurs in brachycephalic breeds of dogs and long-haired dogs. The condition can cause major damages to the internal body systems. Puppies and senior dogs are at higher risk.
The usual symptoms include excessive panting, reddened gums, rapid and irregular heartbeat, shock and coma, drooling and dehydration, blood vomiting, blood in the feces, seizures, muscle tremors and death.
If you suspect your dog might be experiencing a heat stroke it’s best to visit a veterinarian as soon as possible. In cases when you need to react fast there are few things you can do. Start spraying the dog with the nearest cool water source you can find or immerse its body in cool water. You can also wrap the animal in cool and wet towels. In the meantime check the body temperature with a rectal thermometer and don’t let it fall beneath 102.5o F (39.17o C). Never use extremely cold water as it will cause additional problems.
Many people may consider the terms heatstroke and sunstroke as one single condition. Sunstroke actually describes a condition when the dog’s head is exposed to direct sunlight for far too long. During this period the protective membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord overheat thus causing various symptoms. Usually, the dogs are hyperthermic but that’s not the only problem.
The symptoms of sunstroke pretty much resemble those of a heat-stroke: panting, muscle tremors, seizures, coma, shock, weakness, sight troubles, elevated pulse, and sudden death. The therapeutic procedure is pretty much the same as for a heat stroke.
Sunburns and cancer
Dogs, just as humans can be equally sensitive to UV lights and too much exposure can lead to sunburns. The easiest way to detect sunburns is on the dog’s belly, ears, nose, and mouth. These areas became inflamed and the skin cracks. Petting your dog will inflict pain so expect a painful reaction. Small bumps and areas with thicker skin than usual may become apparent. The dog will probably excessively scratch or lick the inflamed area causing even more damage.
Dogs with short hair, thin hair, and dogs with white coats are prone to get sunburned more than others. When you suspect your dog might be having sunburns it’s better to make a visit to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Protect your animals by providing enough ‘shadow areas’ where they can take cover. Even though sunburns occur during summer hot days, clothing them can also reduce the risks.
Hypothermia and frostbites
Dogs can be sensitive to extremely low temperatures, especially when they are not able to cope with the coldness and their body temperatures fall below normal ranges. Not only that the state of hypothermia leaves the body defenseless to bacteria and other pathogens but other symptoms can develop as well: heart failure, coma, and death.
While the body temperatures drop drastically the organism tries to protect the vital organs, therefore, the blood flow to the feet, ears and the limbs is restricted and frostbites occur.
When your dog is suffering from severe hypothermia it’s more than obvious. The dog will start shivering and losing energy so you must provide warm and comfortable shelter for it as soon as possible. You should be especially careful with young dogs highly susceptible to infections and senior dogs suffering from arthritis.
With a little bit of care, your dogs will do just fine during periods of extreme coldness or heat.