Heat Waves Are Coming!
This summer is forecasted to be one of the hottest in history. While this may be nice for people traveling to the beach, this brings additional risk to pet boarding and daycare facilities. Our facility is in Northern Washington state and thus rarely gets severe heat waves. When we do have heat waves come, we make sure to go over our 'Hot Weather Protocols' with all of our staff. Below are the protocols we use to ensure the safety of the pets at our facility.
When the weather gets above 90 degrees it is not safe to allow the dogs to run around too much. We will not be doing any playgroups outside to help prevent heat stroke. Limit dog's time outside to only what is necessary.
In order to determine if it is safe to use a gravel yard, grab a handful of rocks and clench it in your fist. If you cannot hold onto the rocks for 30 seconds, then they are too hot for the dogs paws! Even when they are border-line hot, we should be dousing the rocks with water continually. I have ordered more sprinklers to help us keep the rocks cool. Whenever possible, use the air-conditioned play rooms for activities.
We need to be checking dog's water bowls with more frequency in the hot weather. Whenever walking through a boarding area, have a water jug on hand. All dog's water bowls need to be FULL at all times. You also need to be drinking more water yourself!
High body temperature (100-103°F and above) & stress can cause a pet to go into heat stroke. Dogs cool themselves by panting. However, there are a variety of dogs that have a harder time regulating their body temperature which causes them to overheat much more quickly:
- Brachiocephalic dogs (Pugs, Bostons, Boxers, Pekingese, Frenchies, etc.)
- Dark colored dogs (i.e. black, chocolate, dark grey)
- Dogs who have very thick coats (Huskies, Malamutes, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards)
Heat stroke’s most often caused by leaving a dog out during the warm weather without access to water or shade. Excessive exercise can also lead to heat stroke symptoms – dogs who have a harder time regulating their temperature need to have limited activity during the hottest points of the day.
- Uncontrollable panting
- Rapid heart rate
- Foaming at the mouth
- Vomiting and/or loss of consciousness
- Tongue & gums can initially be bright red – as symptoms worsen they’d begin changing to grey/blue.
Bathe or hose down the dog with cool water until their temperature subsides. Not too cold! We don’t want to shock their system
Moving a pet to a cool, well-ventilated space, then wrapping them in a wet, cold sheet or towel.
Use a digital thermometer to monitor a dog’s core temperature.
- Contact a manager immediately so they can prepare to treat a dog for shock if symptoms continue or rush the dog to the emergency vet.
- Re-fill kiddie pools during the warmer months at each rotation so dogs have access to cool & clean water.
- Do not have “at risk” dogs in play groups during the hottest points of the day.
- Keep “at risk” dogs let outs short. Prioritize getting the kennels of these dogs clean first!
- Re-fill water bowls at the beginning & end of each rotation.
- Give our larger, darker, hairier friends a deeper water bowl.
- Make sure the fans and A/C are turned on & working properly at each rotation.
If you see a pet with heat stroke it is best to play it safe and seek veterinary care! While the sun can make for a fun time with the dogs, if you don't pay attention to the risks involved, you may have dogs in danger and not even know it! On these hot days it's also extremely important to make sure your staff stays hydrated, so remind your staff to drink plenty of water. Stay safe and have fun out there!