Is My Dog Too Hot?

Taffy, my sister Karen’s 14 year-old cocker spaniel, panted with rapid shallow breaths.  Something was wrong with the old dog.  Taffy refused to go outside or eat treats although she drank a bit of fresh water. Karen thought Taffy was suffering from the heat since it was a very warm day in northern California.  But it had been this hot before and Taffy hadn’t had any problems.

Karen placed Taffy in an air-conditioned room and closed the door.  But after a half hour, Taffy still panted and seemed restless, so Karen called her daughter, a vet tech.  She also thought Taffy was just hot.  My sister kept Taffy in the air-conditioned room for a few hours and eventually the dog fell asleep and woke up feeling fine.  Karen took Taffy to the vet the next day.  The vet did a thorough work up and pronounced the dog in good health.

It probably was the heat.

How to cool your hot dog

  • Get a 20-inch box fan and put it on the floor in the kitchen or someplace where there is a tile floor. My dogs love to lie in front of it to keep cool.  Karen said she hadn’t thought about a fan.
  • Buy a cool bed—a waterbed for your dog. It works by taking the heat out of their body and
    Dog on a cool bed

    Chipper on his cool bed in front of a fan.

    transferring it to the water. The cool bed doesn’t work well when it is in the sun or after it warms.  I usually store it in the basement to keep it cool until needed. I also use several cool beds when driving long distances in a cramped car.  Even with the air conditioning on, the dogs get hot in the car and the cool bed makes them more comfortable.

    • Try a cool vest on your dog. I have used one with the cool bed when I had to leave my dog in the car (always in the shade) for a short period when it was warm.
  • Get your dog wet with the hose or even a
    Dog in kiddie pool

    Cassie in her kiddie pool.

    bath. My springer loved her plastic kiddie pool. Just change the water several times a day since they often drink out of it.  We called it her walk in water dish.

  • Give your dog plenty of fresh, cool water. Change their water more often in hot weather since it gets nasty from their slobber.
  • Leave the air conditioning on if possible, or allow them access to the basement or an area with cool tile, like the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Consider shaving your dog. I have found that shaving my spaniels makes a huge difference in their tolerance of the heat. It also removes mats and makes it easier to find fleas and ticks.