I wanted to make some changes to the last post and write more about indicators that can help you understand the body processes of your dog and help save a life. This information is found throughout the Internet and I hope the posters don’t mind that I recapped it here. Your dog or for that matter, a child, an elder, or any creature unable to help themselves needs your protection. We all hear about “accidents” but they don’t need to happen; and for those of you, like me that travel alone with pets should take the time to know what’s normal for you dog and to memorize indicators of a critical condition!

Normal body temperature for a pooch should be between 101.5 and 102.2.  For a very short time an increase to 107 – 8 deg. F. can be tolerated but not for long!  When hot, your dog pants.  A dog will pant for other reasons such as stress, excitement, fear, but when hot, a dog pants to regulate its temperature.  Panting creates an increase in saliva on that perky tongue, this moisture is utilized in the same way as a human’s sweat for cooling. If your dog has a short nose or a flat face, this mechanism is not so effective, likewise a double coated dog, such as a water dog or a northern type breed or mix will not handle heat as well as a southern type breed with a single coat.  Those thick fun to run your hands in, coats are meant to trap heat when swimming or in cold climates; however a point to know, is that if you shave your dog’s coat too close to the skin, especially if you’ve given your pal a bald cut he can not only sunburn but will lose his insulation. Your dog does not need a thick heavy coat in hot conditions but does need protection, just think if you shaved your head on a bight sunny day the top of your head would burn as well as your shoulders and maybe your back and so forth.   A dog’s coat not only keeps the cold away but also traps air to keep the heat away.

Going back to that tongue, watch it closely, note the shape and color, how far is it hanging? Get to know what is normal and you will discover a indicator of what’s going on inside. When staring to warm the tongue hangs gently, its shape will appear relaxed and soft; as the dog continues to heat the tongue extends and widens. The pinkish red color darkens to a deep bloody red when this happens it’s time to take a rest in the shade… say you’re playing a rousing came of  Tennis Ball…  Olympia’s favorite, and you see the tongue hanging way out and turning deep,  ‘ol team player still wants to chase, the edges of the tongue have now turned upwards, like a cup. . . your dog is hot and thirsty, remember a dog is built for action not introspection, it’s time for a break, time to get in the shade with something cool under the belly. Heat emergency happens quickly and is not dependent on how hot it is but rather the condition of your pet, age, the intensity of the activity, the humidity.  This is not the time to pack your dog in your RV and head off to get yourself a nice cool drink. Cool your dog slowly, watch that tongue and offer small amounts of water, spritz the coat and work some moisture in if you think its needed. Don’t offer food and do stop throwing that ball or Frisbee until  Fido shows signs of a more neutral temperature. When out traveling check for dehydration by checking your dogs gums …  if they are dry and tacky (pull back the lips and run your finger on them) your dog needs fluids, pinch the skin around the neck, it should snap back, if it kinda hangs your dog is dehydrated and you need to take action! If the tongue turns bright red or gray and pale you are in an emergency situation!

Here are some other ways dogs cool down:

  • The blood vessels in your dogs face and ears dilate when hot to draw the blood closer to the surface of the skin. . . you can help by applying cool water to ears and face.
  • Dogs sweat through their feet. Check the pads for redness, burning, cracking, to help cooling spritz water on those feet or get you dog in some nice lush moist grass. Always remove shoes when you’re back in your vehicle; you may be using them because the ground is too hot, so their pads can breathe.

Lean These Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs

  • Rapid heavy panting
  • Drooling
  • Petechiae (pinpoint, deep-red hemorrhages on gums/ skin)
  • Bright red mucous membranes on the gums and conjunctiva of the eyes
  • Hyperventilation (gasping for air)
  • Salivation early then dry gums as heat prostration sets in
  • Staring
  • Glassy eyes
  • Anxious expression
  • Refusal to obey commands
  • Warm, dry skin
  • Fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

Cool your dog with cool water, not icy water and not ice!!!! Apply cool water to your dog’s belly, feet and the inside of its ears. Spray and drench your dog if you have enough water to do so but do so slowly depending on the amount of distress your dog is in.  Cooling too fast can do a lot of damage to your pet. Drench a towel and have your dog lay on it, get him/her under a hose, next to an air conditioner or a fan with a bowl of ice cubes set in front of it.  Offer plenty of water for drinking.

It’s always a good idea to take a Pet First Aid course.

It’s a good idea to measure the temperature inside your vehicle.  The ASPCA writes this: even on an 85-degree day, the temperature in a parked car can reach 102 degrees in ten minutes — and that is with the windows cracked. Do not be fooled by shade on a hot day. A car parked in the shade becomes a furnace due to the outside ambient temperature, plus the sun moves and a car once in the shade may soon be a car parked directly in the hot sun.

Interested in the science of why is so much hotter inside a vehicle than outside? Radiant energy, visible and infrared light, heats the exterior of your car and passes in from the windows but like a greenhouse, that heat cannot escape due to the materials from which your car is made but becomes trapped, the energy is absorbed and intensified as the interior of your vehicle radiates some of this energy back into the air.

If you travel with your dog  and you are alone, you will have times when your dog must stay in the vehicle; know what you’re doing!!!  If it’s risky just don’t do it. Sometimes you can stake you dog outside in the shade with a water bowl; in some places such as out in the desert in the summer restaurants and stores will graciously allow you to bring your  pet inside but watch that their feet don’t get burned and be sure to teach your dog to be calm and clean so others will be  equally welcome..

Use good planing when you’re on your own!  if you need to get groceries do so early in the morning or later in the day when it’s not too hot, provide ventilation with window fans, lots of water, ice packs, park in the shade, wet your dog down and provide a  wet surface like a thick wet towel if you need to leave your pet alone. I like to run the air conditioner on max before I park as it will stay cool for awhile and may give me enough time to complete my task before it’s gets hot. Run your generator for the air conditioner but flip on the vent and a fan as well (what if your generator should fail?  Have a back-up plan!)

Park facing into the sun!

Here’s quick list of some handy supplies:

Non-spill dog bowl for water
Solar Shields
12 Volt Fan
Cool caps
Easy Up
Cool mat or ice mat
Kool collar
Cool and frozen treats
Doogles (yes, sunglasses are available for your dog.)

Okay, that’s it for now.  Use this as a starter, much more to know. Ask questions if you want and I will try to answer them for you.