PLEASE do NOT give your dogs ice cubes or other frozen items in the heat to cool them down. Ice cubes do not cool dogs down.
Giving ice cubes to dogs in the heat has the opposite effect of cooling. The canine anterior hypothalamus is triggered to warm up the body because it recognises something icy cold has been absorbed, and subsequently the bodily temperature rises to compensate for this. In extreme heat a dogs’ temperature needs to be reduced gradually.
Sadly the above is the case in the dog mentioned above, just 7 years old.
Give dogs tepid water only. Tepid water soaked towels rubbed into the dogs fur close to the skin to wick away heat from the body will keep them cool, especially under forelegs (armpits) and pads. NOT ICE CUBES
There may be some issues of hot dogs drinking excessive amounts of water due to the hot weather, the concern is that it may precipitate BLOAT, however, most dogs are more likely to vomit the water up rather than carry on to bloat, and it makes no difference whether the water is tepid or containing ice cubes.
Most articles on heatstroke may be a bit technical, and can be hard reading. I must admit that as difficult as it is to hear the heart-wrenching stories of dogs trapped and dying in hot cars, I find that reading what is happening at a tissue and cellular level is almost more distressing.
It explains nicely however the issue of the hypothalamus and how it resets the body’s thermoregulatory centre to make the new higher body temperature “normal”. So when you try to reduce the temperature with external cold, the body thinks it is too cold, and kicks in mechanisms to increase body temperature further. Not good.
We all know the risks of dogs overheating, and I think are careful to protect our furry friends in hot weather.
If however you are in a situation where heatstroke may be an issue, it is useful to remember the following points.
- Heatstroke is a a life-threatening emergency, and the commonest cause is a dog being left in the car in the heat.
- Dogs that are cooled before arriving at their vets are more likely to survive.
- Spray the dog with cool (not cold) water and drive to the vet with the air conditioner on or with the windows open to generate a breeze.
- Consider using a wet towel on the dogs underbelly and armpit areas to encourage heat conduction.
- Don’t use cold water or ice as this can cause narrowing of the small skin blood vessels, diverting hot blood to the vital organs. This can increase body temperature and reduce the opportunity of subsequent heat loss from the body surface.
- Cooling at your vets needs to be slow to avoid avoid harmful rebound hypothermia and shivering which can cause further damage.
Lastly, some tips to keep your dog cool
- Restrict exercise on hot days
- Never leave dogs in hot rooms or sun traps
- Avoid long car journeys
- Make sure they have access to a cool shaded place and cool drinking water
- Always take water on a walk
- In summer, walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening
- Spray your dog with cool water
- Never leave your dog in a parked car