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Dog Days of Summer are Upon Us By Jessica Turquette – owner of Moab BARKery

According to a recently published study, the most common cause of heatstroke in dogs is being exercised by their owners. The researchers found that warm weather exertion or exercise, which could include walking, playing or running, was responsible for 74% of heatstroke cases. The study included the clinical records of over 900,000 dogs in the U.K. The research team found that 1,222 dogs had received veterinary care for heatstroke at some point in their lives, with 400 affected in a single year. Tragically, 14% of the dogs died as a result of their heatstroke.

Hot weather alone was involved in 13% of the cases; riding in or being left in a hot vehicle accounted for 5%. Other heatstroke incidents occurred during treatment at veterinary clinics, at dog groomers, in hot buildings, and while trapped under blankets.

Males and younger dogs were more apt to be victims of heatstroke brought on by exercise. Breeds at increased risk included the Bulldog and French Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chow Chow, English Springer Spaniel, Greyhound, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Older dogs and brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds were at increased risk for heatstroke by simply sitting outside in hot weather, and especially when left in hot cars.

It appears that people are hearing the message about the dangers of hot vehicles, but campaigns to raise public awareness about heat-related illness in dogs need to highlight that dogs do not just die in hot cars. Taking a dog for a walk or a run in hot weather can be just as deadly so consider skipping walks altogether during heatwaves, or be sure to take dogs out early in the morning whilst it’s still cool.

Heatstroke, which is the eventual and often deadly result of overheating, is caused by a dangerously high body temperature. While in the U.S. it most often occurs in dogs left in cars during the summer months, it can also happen in late spring and the first weeks of summer if your pet is exposed to high temperatures before he has adapted to the heat.

In addition to hot vehicles, other contributors to overheating in dogs include lack of drinking water, humid conditions, overexertion and obesity.

As the study makes clear, some dogs are at higher risk for heat-related illness than others, especially brachy breeds and older pets, as well as puppies, dogs who are ill or have a chronic health condition, those not used to warm weather, and any dog left outside unsupervised in the heat.

Symptoms of overheating:

• Bright or dark red tongue, gums
• Staggering, stumbling, weakness or collapse
• Heavy panting or rapid breathing
• Vomiting, bloody diarrhea
• Glazed eyes
• Excessive thirst or drooling
• Increased pulse and heartbeat

If you think your dog is developing heatstroke, you must take immediate action. Move him to a cool area, preferably with air conditioning. At a minimum, move him out of direct sunlight and to a shady spot. If he’s able to stand, or is at least conscious, offer him small amounts of water to drink and take his temperature rectally if possible. If the temp is 104°F or lower, continue to offer small drinks of water. Take care not to give a large amount of water all at once, which can cause vomiting that leads to dehydration. When your dog seems more comfortable, call your veterinarian for instructions on what to do next.

If he is unable to stand without assistance, is unresponsive, or is having seizures, first check for breathing and a heartbeat. At the same time, someone should call the closest veterinary hospital to let them know you are on your way with your dog.

Immediately start cooling him down by soaking his body with cool (not cold) water, using a hose, wet towels, or any other available source of cool water. Concentrate the water on his head, neck and the areas underneath the front and back legs. Be careful to not flood his mouth with water as it could get into the lungs. Never put water into the mouth of a pet who cannot swallow on his own. Put a fan on your dog if possible, as it will speed up the cooling process. Take his temperature if you can. After a few minutes, recheck the temp. If it is at or below 104°F, stop the cooling process to prevent blood clotting or a too-low body temperature. Get your dog to a veterinary clinic immediately, even if he seems to be recovering.

Tips to Ensure Your Dog Stays Cool All Summer Long

1. Never under any circumstances leave her alone in a parked car — On a warm day, the temperature inside your car or truck can rise quickly into the danger zone. For example, on an 85°F day it takes only 10 minutes for the temperature inside your parked car to climb to 102°F. In a half hour, it can rise to 120°F.

Leaving windows cracked does not drop the temperature inside the vehicle, and leaving your car running with the air conditioner on is dangerous for a number of reasons.

Leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle in extreme heat or cold is a criminal act in several states and municipalities. Most statutes have rescue provisions that allow certain individuals, for example police officers, firefighters, animal control officers, and store employees to do whatever is necessary to rescue an animal trapped in a vehicle in extreme temperatures.

On summer days, it is best to leave your pet home, inside, where she can stay cool, hydrated, and safe. “Outside dogs” may need to come inside, or somewhere cooler, when temperatures rise above 95°F. Shade (and warm water) will not prevent heatstroke in extreme temperatures.

2. Provide fresh clean drinking water at all times — In addition to overheating, your dog can become dehydrated very rapidly in warm weather. A good general guideline is that a healthy dog should drink between ½ and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.

And if he’ll be outside for any length of time, he should have access to complete shade. Periodically encourage him to play in the sprinkler or gently hose him off with cool water to prevent overheating.

3. Avoid walking him on paved surfaces — Not only can pavement on a hot day burn your dog’s paws, but the heat rising from concrete or asphalt can quickly overheat an animal that lives close to the ground. Also don’t allow your dog to stand, walk or rest on hot outdoor surfaces like sidewalks or parking lots.

If you must walk her across pavement in the heat of the day, plot the shortest route and walk at a brisk pace. If she’s not too large or heavy, consider carrying her till you reach a cooler surface. If all else fails, dog shoes work to prevent burned pads.

4. Schedule outdoor activities for the coolest parts of the day
— In most places, this means early in the morning or after sunset. Try to stay in the shade during daylight hours, and no matter the time of day, don’t overdo outdoor exercise or play sessions. Even on an overcast day or in the evening, a long period of physical exertion in hot weather can cause your dog to overheat.

A good rule of thumb is if outdoor temps hit 90°F, your four-legged family member should be indoors where it’s cool.

Dog-Friendly Walks/Hikes
in the Moab Area

Corona Arch - Easy/Moderate. 1.3 Miles one way. Trailhead is 25 minute drive from Moab.
North on US-191 to Potash Road (Utah 279).

Mill Creek Pathway - Easy. 1.1 Miles. Little to no driving. Starts at the intersection of 100 South and 100 West,
a block off of Main Street.

Portal Overlook - Hard. 2.0 Miles one way. Trailhead is 20 minute drive from Moab.
North on US-191 to Potash Road (Utah 279).

Grandstaff Canyon - Moderate. 2.0 Miles one way. Trailhead is 10-minute drive from Moab.
North on US-191 to the River Road (Utah 128)

MoabBarkery website

Dog Friendly Walks/Hikes in the Moab Area
Trail or Walk Difficulty Length
(one way)
Proximity to Downtown
MillCreek Pathway
easy 1.1 miles Little to no driving
Starts at 100 S & 100 W
Portal Overlook
(trailhead @ Jaycee Park)
Hard 2.0 miles 25 min drive N on US-191 to W on Utah 279 (4.2 miles)
Moab Rim Hard 3.0 miles
(to Hidden Valley trail)
8 minute drive 2.6 miles down Kane Creek Blvd from US-191
Negro Bill Canyon
(aka William Grandstaff Canyon)
Moderate 2.0 miles 10 minute drive N on US-191 to
W on Utah 128, 3 miles
Hunter Canyon Easy 2.0 miles 25 minute drive (mild off-road)
7.5 miles down Kane Creek Blvd from US-191
Corona Arch Trail Easy/Moderate 1.5 miles 25 minute drive N on US-191 to
W Utah 279 (10 miles)
Hidden Valley
(trailhead at end of Angel Rock Rd)
Hard 2.0 miles 10 minute drive S on US-191
3 miles to Angel Rock Rd
Fisher Towers
(trailhead 2.2 miles off Utah 128)
Moderate 2.2 miles 35 minute drive N on US-191 to Utah 128, then 21 miles

Tips for enjoying your time with your dog here in the Moab area:

  • Bring lots of extra water for you and your dog.1 gallon per day for every 60lbs of dog!!
  • Don’t let dogs chase wildlife (especially coyotes, they can lead dogs into an ambush).
  • In the city, dogs are required to be leashed, but on public lands off leash with voice control is allowed.
  • Slickrock and sand is very abrasive!  Check paw pads often, or buy and use booties.
  • If it’s over 85 degrees only consider early AM or late PM hikes, daycare or leave your dog at home.
  • Pack out my poop!  Seriously or the other hikers without dogs will eventually demand no dogs allowed!

To see past articles about animals, pets and their care check our archives.

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