Hot Dogs and Cats and What to Watch for During the Summer!

By Melanie Rushforth, Vice President of Veterinary Services

With the higher temperatures in the summer months, our dog walks might be a little shorter. When it is hot outside, it can be a struggle to get proper exercise, and when humans are too hot to exercise we can often overlook how necessary it is for your dog. There are several ways that your dog can still get some great exercise without overheating in the warm summer months.

Have a backyard? Put a kiddie pool out for him to romp around in, or a sprinkler for him to chase the water through. Near a lake, beach, or dog park with a pond? Let him go for a swim. This will help cool him off while ensuring he is still getting the exercise he needs to stay healthy. Remember to bring clean, fresh water and do not let him drink from the source.

With exercise comes panting. Panting is a perfectly normal way for your dog to cool down. However, sometimes panting is a sign that something else is going on. Any concerning behavior or condition should be a topic of discussion with your veterinarian, and this article will outline some of the top reasons your pet might be panting. You’ll notice this article is centered around dogs, and that is no accident. If you live with a cat, and notice that the cat has begun panting, contact your veterinarian right away. A cat’s normal breathing rhythm should be smooth and unlabored. Panting is usually a sign that something isn’t right with your cat. Cats only breathe hard with their mouths open when they are very stressed, extremely hot, or a disease process is occurring.

Overheating, or heatstroke, will cause heavy panting in dogs, which can quickly lead to dehydration and death if untreated. Treating heatstroke requires emergency veterinary care. Dogs who are overheated pant very heavily and will likely appear uncomfortable in some way. They could be restless, laid out flat, and/or not responding to you because they are so focused on cooling themselves.

If you see your dog panting, take note of their body language. Are their eyes wide and weary? Are they looking away and yawning? These are some common body language cues that indicate your panting dog is stressed. Panting should correlate with the outside temperature or activity. Healthy dogs usually don’t need to pant in the absence of exercise or excitement.

If you are ever concerned that the panting you hear is excessive, contact your veterinarian immediately. It’s never safe to take a guess when it comes to your dog’s health, and your veterinarian can help you determine if something is wrong or not. Your veterinarian can also help you create a plan on addressing heavy breathing if your dog has a medical condition. You want to enjoy your time with your dog and keep him healthy, so pay attention to those breathy pants, and your pooch will thank you. If you are a new pet owner and looking to establish a home veterinarian, keep the Lipsey Clinic at the SPCA Serving Erie County in mind. Please visit the Lipsey Clinic’s website to see what services we offer for cats and dogs. Like you, we want your furry friends to live a long and healthy life. Regular veterinary care and appropriate diagnostic tests will set everyone up for success.