Keeping your pug cool during the dog days of summer
July 18th, 2005
Summer heat takes its toll not only on humans, but also on our pets. Actually, summer weather is harder on your pug than it is for you. When humans become hot, they sweat and when that sweat drys on our skin it cools our body. Dogs, on the other hand, only have sweat glands on their paws, which means they do not cool themselves by sweating. Instead, they cool down by panting.
When your pug pants, it is cooling itself by expelling hot air from its body. While this cooling method works, it is not nearly as effective as sweating. So it is safe to say, that if you are hot your fur covered friend is even hotter.
To make matters worse, pugs along with other short nosed breeds, have smaller airways than their non short nosed counterparts. This means that when pugs pant they expell even less hot air than breeds with snouts and have an even more difficult time cooling themselves through panting.
The pug's short nosed makes it very susceptible to heatstroke. A pug's normal body temperature is between 101°F and 102°F. When a pug's body temperature rises to 105°f (just 3° higher than normal!), they are no longer able to cope with cooling themselves and their oxygen demand is greatly increased. With a temperature of 105°F your pug is in a very dangerous situation and needs help cooling down immediately. If a pug's temperature reaches 108°F, the heart, brain, liver and kidneys begin to break down at a cellular level which can lead to long term health problems or even death.
Below is a list of warning signs that your pug may be suffering from heatstroke:
- rapid, heavy panting
- warm, dry skin
- excessive salivating
- inablility to stand, collapse
If you think your pug is suffering with heatstroke, here is what you can do. First, have someone call the vet or the emergency vet, while you try to cool your pug. You can cool your pug, by placing cool towels on its body. The towels must be cool, but not ice cold. Drastic temperature changes are not good for your pug either. Remember to keep wetting the towels because they will quickly warm to your pug's body temperature. If wet towels are not available, put cool water on the back of your pug's neck and on its belly. While cooling your pug, offer it fresh water as well.
While overheating and heatstroke are a serious concern for pug owners, this is not to say that pugs can not join in on any of the summer fun. Under the watchful eyes of their owners, pugs can enjoy the lazy days of summer too. First, make sure that you always have plenty of fresh water with you. While outside it is important that your pug always have access to cool water.
Second, avoid walking during the hotest part of the day. You and your pug can beat the heat by taking walks in the morning hours or in the evening hours prior to sunset. Also, try to find shade covered paths to help protect you and your pug from the sun.
In addition, if your pug enjoys water your pug can stay cool and burn off some of that pent up energy by swimming. A small, kiddie pool filled with fresh water is a great way for your pug to stay cool and have some fun. Or if your pug is a good swimmer they can go swimming in the pool with you.
The main thing to remember in the summer is to take cues from your pug. If you keep a close eye on your pug during those hot, humid months you and your pug will enjoy a great summer.